Supreme Court Justice Nominee Jim Kitchens attacked in political ads

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A sitting Mississippi Supreme Court justice is defending himself against ads that claim he sides with child abusers and murderers.

The attack ads are from two different organizations; one of them is here in Mississippi.

One of the ads says sitting Supreme Court Justice Jim Kitchens is ignoring victims and hurting families.

Kitchens says the ads are hurting his family.

“It’s hard to hear but Jim Kitchens has lost his way.”

So begins one of two ads questioning how Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Jim Kitchens votes on criminal cases.

Both ads address two specific cases.

In Jordan versus the state, three men were convicted of sexual abuse, gratification of lust and child neglect for the rape of a three-year-old child.

Kitchens voted to review the case when it was presented to the Supreme Court.

“Justice Chandler thought we should and I thought we should,” said Judge Kitchens.

Kitchens is referring to former Justice David Chandler who last year was appointed as the new Executive Director of the Division of Family and Children’s Services by Governor Phil Bryant.

“That’s a child abuse case. They’re horrible cases. Nobody supports child abuse that I know of,” said Judge Kitchens.

In the other case, Wilson versus the state, Kitchens supported reviewing the conviction of William Matthew Wilson who pleaded guilty to beating a two-year-old girl to death.

Other justices denied the review.

“Had ineffective assistance of counsel issue. Wilson got the death penalty and we’re required on the Supreme Court to review death penalty cases with heightened scrutiny,” said Judge Kitchens.

Judge Kitchens says now, the other justices have changed their minds.

The case has been sent back to court in Lee County.

Judge Kitchens is running for reelection against Court of Appeals Judge Kenny Griffis who is concerned with his opponents’ record.

“I am. I think if you look at his voting record over the past seven years, voted to reverse over 50 percent of the criminal cases. Last year, he voted to reverse or vacate over or around 65 percent of the criminal cases,” said Judge Griffis.

Griffis says he’s focusing his campaign on his record after 14 years as a judge who has tried over 8,000 cases.

“Those are not from me. They’re not from my campaign. I haven’t asked for those ads. I haven’t had anything to do with those ads,” said Judge Griffis.

One ad was paid for by the Center for Individual Freedom Based in Virginia; the other one was paid for by the Improve Mississippi Political Action Committee.

The PAC sent the following statement:

In order for Mississippi to be a place where businesses locate and jobs are created, it must first be a safe place to work and live. The voters need to know the truth about Jim Kitchens’ surprising record of consistently supporting criminals over victims.

A look at the PAC’s finance reports from July through September show more than $250,000 designated to support Judge Griffis.

The money comes primarily from other PACS; like a $10,000 contribution from the state Poultry Association PAC and $50,000 gift from the state Manufacturers Association PAC.

The election is Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

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