Karl Banks
Karl Banks
A jury trial has been ordered in the over two-year-old District 4 supervisor election challenge by Karl Banks.

Retired Special Circuit Judge Richard McKenzie of Hattiesburg held a motions hearing last Thursday and ruled on a number of issues still before the court before ultimately denying David Bishop a summary judgment and ordering a trial to proceed in late April.

McKenzie heard several motions filed by Bishop’s legal team to stop Banks from introducing certain evidence before sustaining all of them. Banks’ legal team was attempting to introduce evidence pertaining to different ballots that Bishop’s legal team argued were outside the scope of the original election challenge.

Attorneys Cory Wilson and Jim Herring argued that Banks can’t amend his original election challenge, which the judge ultimately upheld.

The trial date was not finalized last week as all parties were ordered to work together and find an eight-day period that worked with everyone’s schedules. Wilson, a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, said he will be in session for three months beginning in January so it would need to be after that, much to the chagrin of Banks and his legal team.

The crux of the election contest now centers around 31 votes that Banks said were counted, but not added to the final tally of votes. Banks contends that if those votes were added to the final count, he would have been the winner of the election.

Bishop contends that all the votes were counted, but has gone further to argue that if they were to dissect those 31 ballots, his team would be able to nullify some and still show he won.

The election contest began following the Nov. 3, 2015, general election where certified results show Bishop, a Republican, beating Banks, a 32-year incumbent Democrat, by two votes.

Retired Circuit Judge Henry Lackey was initially appointed to preside over the case. Banks had asked for Lackey to recuse himself because of concern of Republican affiliations. The matter worked its way through Mississippi Supreme Court, which ultimately affirmed Lackey did not have to recuse himself.

In February, Lackey ordered a jury trial to be held immediately but no trial date was set. A Sept. 1 motions hearing was scheduled by Lackey, which was later cancelled. Lackey then recused himself from the case on Sept. 21. McKenzie was appointed by the Mississippi Supreme Court on Sept. 26.