Judges picked for Katrina cases

John O'Brien Oct. 9, 2008, 1:00pm

JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - Eleven special judges have been selected to hear Hurricane Katrina cases in Jackson County, Miss.

The Mississippi Supreme Court made the announcement Thursday. Chief Justice James Smith was scheduled to administer the oath of office to some of the judges later that day.

The judges of the circuit and county courts of Jackson County recused themselves from hearing the cases. The 11 -- of whom seven are retired judges, three are former presidents of the Mississippi Bar and one is a law professor -- will be paid from a $300,000 fund approved by the state Legislature.

There are 242 civil cases in Jackson Circuit Court and 19 in Jackson County Court. Insurance companies have been sued over allegedly misrepresenting the amount of damage done by flood (covered by a federal program) and wind (covered by their policies) after the 2005 storm.

The special judges are:

-Former Hinds County Court Judge James Bell of Jackson;

-Patricia W. Bennett of Jackson, professor of law at the Mississippi College School of Law, former assistant district attorney and assistant U.S. attorney;

-Richard Thomas Bennett of Jackson, former Mississippi Bar president;

-Rretired Court of Appeals Judge Billy G. Bridges of Brandon;

-Retired Circuit Judge R. Kenneth Coleman of New Albany;

-Retired Chancery Judge William J. Lutz of Canton;

-Retired Chancery Judge Ray H. Montgomery of Canton;

-Retired Chancery Judge Edward C. Prisock of Louisville;

-Charles J. Swayze Jr. of Greenwood, former Mississippi Bar president;

-William C. "Cham" Trotter III of Belzoni, former Mississippi Bar president; and

-Retired Chancery Judge Thomas L. Zebert of Pearl.

Bell will hear the Jackson County cases.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at john@legalnewsline

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