Retired Court of Appeals Judge Larry E. Roberts of Meridian has been appointed to assist the 8th Circuit Court of Leake, Neshoba, Newton and Scott counties in handling the backlog of cases that have resulted from delays caused by COVID-19, Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph announced Tuesday.

Circuit Judge Mark Duncan requested appointment of a temporary special judge to assist the two-judge district.

More special judges are expected to be appointed to temporarily assist judges in districts across the state. Eight special judges have been appointed in Hinds County in recent days, including four today. A special judge was appointed on July 30 in the 16th Chancery Courts of Jackson, George and Greene counties. Special judges were appointed on July 31 in the 21st Circuit Court of Holmes, Humphreys and Yazoo counties and in the Warren County Court. Other judges around the state have requested special judge appointments.

Chief Justice Randolph said that COVID-19 has presented a multitude of challenges to the prompt and efficient administration of justice. The disruption caused by COVID-19 required an untold number of court case continuances since it was declared a national emergency on March 13. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 cases may have been affected.

The Mississippi Legislature appropriated $2.5 million of CARES Act money to assist the courts. Special judges to be appointed around the state will be paid with CARES Act funds which will be available through Dec. 30, 2020.

Judge Roberts retired from the Mississippi Court of Appeals on June 30, 2015. His career of nearly 37 years of public service includes nine and a half years on the Court of Appeals, 19 years as a Circuit Judge of the 10th Judicial District of Clarke, Kemper, Lauderdale and Wayne counties, and eight years as a Lauderdale County Court judge.

Judge Roberts has served as a senior status judge for the past five years. Senior status judges are retired judges who have agreed to accept appointments by the Supreme Court. A total of 70 retired judges serve as senior status judges. They include retirees from all levels of the state court system: Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Chancery Courts, Circuit Court and County Courts.

Here is the link to the special judge appointment order for Judge Roberts: https://courts.ms.gov/appellatecourts/docket/sendPDF.php?f=700_507899.pdf&c=92346&a=N&s=2.