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Fox 40 "News" - Kitchens Too Hot for Smith, Wins Supreme Court Seat

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Fox 40 "News" - Kitchens Too Hot for Smith, Wins Supreme Court Seat

Stephen Peteritas and Kathy Y. Times

Voters shook up the Mississippi Supreme Court Tuesday, ousting the sitting chief justice and another justice.

Attorney Jim Kitchens defeated Chief Justice Jim Smith, who had been on the court for almost 16 years, the past four years as chief justice.

Kitchens, a folksy, low-key former district attorney from Crystal Springs, campaigned on what he called an erosion of confidence in the state Supreme Court. Fox 40 News interviewed Kitchens as he celebrated with supporters in downtown Jackson.

"The AP has declared me the winner, and I think that's a good indication the race is over. I know there are some votes to be counted, but I don't think his honor, Chief Justice Smith, can overcome the lead we've established."

Fox 40 News also paid a visit to Smith's election night party headquarters, but he was not there and his staff did not want to comment on the race.

Smith, campaigned on his experience on the bench. He said during his tenure as chief justice, the court erased a backlog of cases, has taken steps to improve access to the courts and lawyers by the underprivileged and sought to revise rules for criminal and youth

Former Chancery Judge Ceola James of Vicksburg ran a distant third.

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