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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Supreme Court appointed a new judge Tuesday to hear former Madison County Supervisor Karl Banks’ challenge of his 2015 re-election loss.

Chief Justice William Waller Jr. filed an order naming retired Circuit Judge Richard McKenzie of Hattiesburg to replace Special Circuit Court Judge Henry Lackey who removed himself from the case last week.

The Clarion-Ledger reports Lackey’s decision came as a surprise because he had refused a previous request by Banks’ legal team to recuse himself, and the state Supreme Court in October 2016 denied the request to force Lackey to step down.

Banks’ lawyers had noted that Lackey had attended Republican Party events over the years, which might appear to influence his decision since Banks, a Democrat, is challenging the victory of David Bishop, a Republican.

Last week, Lackey filed an order removing himself from the case.

“That unforeseen and undesired events and circumstances have arisen making it unduly burdensome and impractical for Judge Henry L. Lackey to continue to sit on this cause under prevailing circumstances,” Lackey said in his recusal order.

Banks’ attorney, Lisa Ross, said they were surprised with Lackey’s order.

Ross said they had hoped the case could have been resolved by November, but with Lackey’s decision, such a timeframe is uncertain.

Earlier this year, Lackey ruled that a jury should decide the issue of contested ballots in the November 2015 election. Lackey has said the dispute revolves around 45 contested ballots.


Information from: The Clarion-Ledger,