Hurricane Katrina Forest Recovery

As we work together to tackle the historic challenge that Hurricane Katrina has presented to the forestry communities of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, we hope that this blog will be a valuable resource and tool.

Thursday, April 27

Court Adopts Emergency Guidelines

The Mississippi Supreme Court has adopted "Guidelines for Emergency Preparedness Planning," which was prompted by the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the state's court system.
Chief Justice James W. Smith Jr. said, "The guidelines were established to aid each court in Mississippi in the process of developing a unique, local emergency preparedness plan aimed at keeping the courthouse open during emergencies and/or threats, so long as the safety of the public, court officers and court personnel is not compromised."

In the aftermath of Katrina, Chief Justice Smith appointed Justices George C. Carlson Jr., James E. Graves Jr. and Michael K. Randolph to the Supreme Court of Mississippi Emergency Preparedness Committee and directed them to develop guidelines that will aid Mississippi's courts in the development of unique, local emergency preparedness plans. Justice Carlson, committee chair, introduced the guidelines to chancery, circuit and county court judges April 20 at the Mississippi Trial and Appellate Judges Spring Conference held in Robinsonville.

Justice Carlson said that the drastic effect Hurricane Katrina had on the Mississippi judicial system was a reminder of the importance of emergency preparedness. Some trial courts closed due to the damage, and the Supreme Court closed as a result of utility outages. Courts in Hancock and Jackson counties are operating now in temporary facilities. Justice Carlson added, "We have to start thinking about hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods, earthquakes, acts of terrorism, bomb threats. What we are trying to do is to make sure that you are able to keep your doors open and operate your court system."

The guidelines suggest that emergency preparedness plans include a means of communicating, an alternative site where court proceedings can be held, advance designation of essential personnel and functions of the court and details for moving staff and equipment. The guidelines noted that protection of court records is vital. The plan should consider temporary or long-term closure.

Justice Carlson said the guidelines are not mandatory, but are suggestions each court can use to develop its own detailed emergency preparedness plan. He said that each court's plan should be tailored to fit local needs.


Post a Comment

<< Home