Circuit court judge seeks space in Vicksburg Auditorium for trials

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 14, 2002

[01/12/02]New time standards set by the Mississippi Supreme Court for court trials in the state have forced Warren County to seek an alternate site for civil cases.

Ninth Circuit Judge Frank Vollor said the 18-month standard set by the Supreme Court last year has put additional pressure on the courts to push trials through the system. He said that a second circuit courtroom is needed to meet those deadlines.

“We’ve got two judges here and only one courtroom,” Vollor said. “Sometimes I’ve got time to be in court, but no courtroom.”

Vollor has asked the City of Vicksburg to allow him to use the Vicksburg Auditorium for free as an alternate site to conduct civil trials on 10 dates this year. The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Thursday denied the request on the recommendation of the management firm that runs the auditorium and Convention Center because it would reduce the number of days the facility could be rented out.

“I don’t want to make a profit off of the county, but it would take away too many days,” said Mayor Laurence Leyens.

Vollor said he would continue to seek an alternate site for cases and would ask the Warren County Board of Supervisors for help finding a suitable location. He said that although the standards are recommendations and not requirements that the Supreme Court could take some type of action against a judge not meeting them.

“They’re very strong recommendations,” Vollor said.

The county board of supervisors is required by law to maintain a courthouse for civil and criminal trials. The Warren County Courthouse has one courtroom for circuit cases, which include civil suits and felony cases. A separate courtroom is used for misdemeanor cases, and a third courtroom for family law, but Vollor said he cannot use those courtrooms very often because they are used almost weekly.

Currently, Vollor, who is the senior of two judges in the Ninth District, which includes Warren, Sharkey and Issaquena counties, has about 114 civil cases pending in Warren County. The next date available for a new civil case to be heard in Warren County Circuit Court is next year.

Vollor also has about 115 criminal cases pending in circuit court. Those numbers do not include cases to be heard before Judge Isadore Patrick.

“I’m frustrated because the Supreme Court has given me a mandate to push these cases along and I need a place to do it,” Vollor said.

The recommendations from the Supreme Court also give 270 days from arraignment to complete felony trials. Vollor said the county’s total case load is also adding pressure to meet those standards.

“We’ll just have to keep looking,” Vollor said.

He said that he plans to use the alternate location for civil cases only.