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Michael Phelan
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Life Imitates Art in Mississippi Supreme Court

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In an unprecedented action, the Mississippi Supreme Court attempted to bar the publication of a dissenting opinion by a sitting Supreme Court Justice. The case is a wrongful death case called Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board v. Kraft. One of the issues on appeal involved the statute of limitations, which governs the time limitation for filing a lawsuit. The court had earlier reversed 150 years of Mississippi jurisprudence in deciding that the statute of limitations in wrongful death cases begins to run at the time of the wrongful act rather than at the time of victim’s death. In the Kraft case, Justice Oliver Diaz hoped that the court would grant certiori, hear the case, and reverse the incorrect interpretation of when the wrongful death cause of action accrues. When the majority refused to grant cert, Justice Diaz issued a dissent opinion pointing out the flaws in the analysis in the case which held that the statute of limitations begins to run at the time of the wrongful act. Justice Diaz pointed out in his dissent that this rule could lead to the absurd result where the time for filing a wrongful death case expired before the victim actually died. The justices in the majority voted to bar the publication of Justice Diaz’s dissent. Mississippi legal scholars report that this action is unprecedented. Sounds like John Grisham needs to write an addenda to The Appeal.