Candidate Questionnaire: Tomie T. Green | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Candidate Questionnaire: Tomie T. Green

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Photo courtesy Tomie T. Green

Fast Facts About Tomie T. Green

Title of District/Position Campaigning for:

Circuit Judge - Mississippi Seventh Circuit District(Hinds Co.) Subdistrict 2

Educational Background:

1st-11th grade - Jackson Public Schools (Isable Elementary, Blackburn Jr High , Jim Hill HS)

BA , Sociology/History , Magna Cum Laude - Tougaloo College

MSEd. Counseling, Summa Cum Laude - Jackson State University

Juris Doctor - Mississippi College School of Law (Moot Court)

National College of Trial Advocacy

University of Nevada @ Reno - General Jurisdiction

Professional Background:

Non-Legal

1973 Director of Alumni Affairs - Tougaloo College

1975-Jackson Hinds Comprehensive Health Center (Health Educator)

1977- Hudspeth Mental Health Center, Whitfield, MS

1978- MS Department of Mental Health

1979- Assoc. Professor/Director of Testing- Tougaloo College

Legal

1984- Judicial Clerk for U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate

1986- Assistant District Attorney for Hinds & Yazoo Counties (7th Circuit District)

1988- Walker, Walker & Green, PLLC

1992- Elected to Mississippi House of Representatives

1998- Elected Circuit Judge, 7th Circuit District for Mississippi

1998 - Adjunct Professor at Mississippi School of Law : Pretrial and Trial Practice

2011- Senior Circuit Judge of 7th Circuit District (Hinds County), Mississippi

Place of Residence:

Jackson, Mississippi (Pine Lake homeowner for 41 years)

Spouse/children (if applicable):

Widow of Cornelious Green, Jr. (died of bone cancer in 1997)

Two(2) adult children and two(2) grandsons:

(1). Dr. Nikisha Green (Dr. David) Ware and their sons, Solomon & Asa Ware

(2). Synarus Green

If you have run for this judicial seat before, please state when. (If you are an incumbent, please cite years in current position):

Hinds County citizens first elected me to serve them as circuit judge in November of 1998. I have served continuously since that time. After 11 years of service, I became Senior Circuit Judge and have served in that capacity for the last 7 years.

The Jackson Free Press reached out to all judicial candidates who are running on the Nov. 6 ballot to represent jurisdictions throughout the Jackson Metro Area, regardless of whether they had a challenger or not. Each candidate received the same questionnaire. We've published their responses in full below, with minimal edits for editorial/reader clarity only. The JFP did not copyedit or line-edit candidate responses. The views expressed by candidates do not necessarily reflect the views of the JFP.

Why do you want to serve Hinds County right now?

I want to continue to serve Hinds County as a circuit judge now because I am making a difference in the Hinds County Circuit Court and in the judiciary throughout the county and State. My peers and those who appear before me, to include jurors, witnesses, defendants , lawyers and prosecutors at every level , can attest to my competence, fairness, integrity, honesty and impartiality. I want to stabilize the Court by completing projects that are at a crucial point of development.

Over the last seven years I have served Hinds County as its Senior Circuit Judge. My efforts have led to the installation of 21st century technology in all four (4) courtrooms. The technology reduces the costs paid by attorneys and litigants for the rental of equipment needed to view evidence in realtime during the course of trials.

Working with the Mississippi Supreme Court's Electronic Courts (MEC) in 2014, I ordered mandatory online filing of all circuit and county court pleadings. Partnering with our current circuit clerk, Hinds County's online filing was expanded to include all felony cases as well. Thereafter, the circuit court partnered with the Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff to create video conferencing between the Court and the county jails to save taxpayers the thousands of dollars spent transporting prisoners between the jail and the Courthouse . We are not fully operational with the video conferencing system in all our local courts. I want to remain with the Court until video conferencing operates at its optimal level. When completed, the citizens of Hinds County will reap noticeable dividends for this investments.

In 2016, the Board of Supervisor and the Sheriff settled a suit with the Department of Justice. A consent decree between the parties was signed. Compliance with the consent decree requires that both the Jackson and Raymond detention centers undergo physical plant renovations and more importantly changes within the culture of incarceration. Beginning in February 2018, I was elected by Hinds County stakeholders to co-chair the Hinds County's Criminal Justice Coordinating Council(CJCC). The Council is tasked with maintaining conversations with all criminal justice officials, city governing bodies, and law enforcement agencies in Hinds County and the State of Mississippi to eradicate unconstitutional procedures and policies used while housing detainees. Additionally, the CJCC will collaborate with other policy makers to address mass incarceration , disparity in sentencing and more timely prosecutions of the cases of Defendants housed in the county detention centers. The goal of CJCC is to improve the criminal justice system in all aspects of prosecution.

Provide one or two examples of your legal and/or judicial experience when you have made an impact in Hinds County, and describe the result.

I have presided over more than 18,000 criminal and civil matters during my tenure on the circuit bench. The Court does not try cases, the parties do. The Court presides in cases and places cases on the trial calendar for trials when all parties are ready to proceed. About 80% of our criminal cases end with a District Attorney's request for dismissal, Nolle Pros, Remand or a plea deal with the District Attorney. The District Attorney normally recommends the sentence for a Defendant who pleads guilty, which the court has the authority to reject. Likewise, most civil cases settle without the need for trial. Along with my administrative duties, I manage a full caseload of criminal and civil cases, as well as handle appeals from lower courts, tribunals and governmental agencies.

Upon becoming Senior Circuit Judge, I appointed a new circuit drug court judge and he has increased the numbers from approximately 60 to more than 200 participants. Hinds County Drug Court has since been honored as the Drug Court of the Year. The Drug Court judge, prosecutors, defense attorneys and community agencies help save millions of taxpayer dollars and more importantly have saved hundreds of Defendants' lives. Our expanded drug court treats veterans and persons addicted to opiates. I also appointed a new Public Defender, after Defendants complained that their lawyers were not visiting them at the jails and were not adequately representing them in their cases. Currently, complaints of this nature are rare.

One my greatest accomplishments as Senior Judge has been establishing online filing of pleadings in the circuit court. Attorneys and runners no longer come to the courthouse to file pleadings. Once a pleading is filed, a circuit judge can file orders with the circuit clerk or write text orders online . When pleadings are filed , when orders are entered, when warrants or motions are filed, every party involved in the case receives a copy of the filing within minutes. Judicial staff no longer have to manually pull files from the clerk's office. The cases are online at all times, day or night. If there is an appeal to the Supreme Court, the entire record can be prepared and forwarded over the internet within a few hours. This technology did not exist in the circuit court prior to my becoming Senior Circuit Judge.

Effective July 1, 2017, the Mississippi Supreme Court's new rules require that a week before each term of court, the Sheriff file a list of all detainees held in the jail with the circuit clerk, the Senior Circuit Judge, the District Attorney and the Public Defender. Thereafter, the Supreme Court requires the Senior Circuit Judge to review all cases at the jails where the Detainee has been held for more than 90 days, without an indictment. Nationally, defendants are indicted within 30 days of arrest. Over the past year the Court began developing a system to meet its responsibility under the new rule, while protecting public safety and addressing issues of unconstitutional detainment . By following our new rules of criminal procedure, the risk of injuries or deaths at the jail are minimized.consequently, Hinds County moves closer to satisfying our constitutional mandates, and achieving compliance with our consent decrees at the jails.

Do you think there is anything that can be done in a judicial capacity to alleviate or reduce crime in your jurisdiction?

Generally, I support all efforts to prevent crime and reduce recidivism in Hinds County. I have assisted others to secure grants that are designed to prevent or curb crime and assists ex-felons to productively reintegrate into their communities after they have paid their debt to society. When permitted under the Judicial Code, I have welcomed the opportunity to speak and participate in programs design to focus on at-risk youths and families in our communities. I have collaborated with grant writers at educational institutions to secure grants geared toward crime prevention and smarter ways to effectively and efficiently deal with social and mental health issues that are related to crime. I continue to speak with children about resolving problems without violence, coping skills and the laws involving minors. However, as a circuit judge I am always mindful of the potential for conflicts that can arise while interacting with community and the performance of my judicial duties.

In the past year or so, what has been the most consequential/at-risk issue facing the area you wish to serve and what do you plan to do about it?

Two risks facing our community involves the increased in crimes against persons in Hinds County, and the silence of the witnesses needed for the prosecution of these crimes. The risk related to the increase in crimes against persons is somewhat enabled by the easy access to guns by minors and persons who are suffering mental illnesses. These risk are also enabled by the fear of retaliation in our communities and a distrust of the criminal justice system. As such, citizens prefer to be silent rather than perform their civic responsibilities of assisting in the prosecution of those charged with serious crimes.

The distribution of illegal drugs and drug abuse remain our biggest risks to public safety. This risk infests our homes, workplaces, schools and communities. The risk is an equal opportunity employer. Drugs undergirds the commission of at least 60% of all crimes, and destroys the lives of the rich and poor alike.

The judiciary is limited in its ability and limited in its authority to directly impact these risks. The remedy lies with the people and the persons they elect to change policies and change the concept that incarceration is the cure for all of our community ills.

Fairness and Justice are the cornerstones of our criminal and civil justice system. Circuit Judges must meted out justice to all our citizens equally, or as equally as can humanly be done, without regard to their race, gender, religion, age or national origin. Our judiciary , like all branches of government is charged with recognizing and appreciating the differences among litigants. Whether the litigants who appear before us are rich or poor; whether they work for minimum wages or whether they own a billion dollar corporation; whether they live near an outhouse or whether they live in the Whitehouse, we must treat our citizens fairly and impartially. When the objective of fairness and justice are achieved, it is my opinion that the risks impacting our community will subside and citizens' trust in the criminal justice system will be restored.

What are the characteristics of a good judge, and how do your characteristics compare?

A good judge is knowledgeable, wise and committed to the fair and just interpretation of the law. A good judge is firm, but not inflexible; compassionate but not weak hearted. A good judge is faithful-to both God and to all those who come before the Court. She is disciplined, honest and dedicated to the law. A good judge is tolerance and sober in her temperament. A good judge endeavors to make the punishment fit the crime, while at the same time honoring both the letter and spirit of the law. A good judge shows mercy, without fear of public disapproval. A good judge recognizes her own imperfections in the face of judging or misjudging others. A good judge remembers that the right decision based on the right law, merged with the principles established by God, always results in a majority opinion. I meet the criteria of a good circuit judge.

What sets you apart in this race?

My twenty (20) years of experience as a circuit judge, my competence and knowledge in all areas of the law under the circuit court's jurisdiction, my commitment, my work ethics, my character and my integrity sets me apart from my opponent.

At the end of this year, two(2) of our experienced circuit judges will leave the circuit bench. Thus, fifty percent (50%) of the experience needed to manage the criminal and civil dockets will give way to new judges who will need time to learn procedures and become familiar with all areas of the law governing cases litigated in the circuit court.

New circuit judges must attend general jurisdiction courses at the University of Nevada-Reno for an extended period of time during their first year on the bench. Additionally, they must attend training with the Mississippi Judicial College, with a goal of training Hinds County circuit judges to effectively and efficiently manage what will prove to be one of the heaviest dockets in the State. I have been a judicial trainer for the Mississippi Judicial College for all new county, circuit and appellate judges elected during the last two judicial elections. I am keenly aware of the obstacles that face newly elected judges. The unusual circumstance of Hinds County losing half of its circuit bench will require my skills as a seasoned jurist to stabilize the circuit court.

If you are unsuccessful in your race, how specifically will you continue working on behalf of your district?

All of my adult life has being one of service. I will continue to serve. I hope to teach, volunteer and work with non-profits, educational institutions and faith based projects that give attention and assistance to families at risk and our growing population of active seniors.

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