Mississippi law enforcement, courts adjusting to new laws

Mississippi law enforcement, courts adjusting to new laws
New rules go into effect. Photo credit WDAM

WAYNE COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The state of Mississippi has a new set of universal court rules. It's called the Mississippi Rules of criminal procedure.

Jones county justice court judge Billie Graham is one of the judges who will have to adjust.

"It's an effort to get everyone working from the same set of rules," Graham said.

One of the changes includes new guidelines for people who are arrested without a search warrant.

The rule states that if a person is arrested without a search warrant, that person must appear in front of a judge "no later than 48-hours" after their initial arrest.

"It used to be 72 hours," Graham said. "There have been discussions about whether or not that includes weekends and holidays. We have an understanding about what would happen if we do get called out here during the weekend."

Judge Graham described the rules as helpful, but she admitted that some changes will have to be made.

"We will eventually be able to streamline the process," Graham said. "We're on a learning curve. We have to learn what to do, and find the best way to do it. Fortunately, we have good people working here who are trying hard to do the right thing."

Another law change in Mississippi is House Bill 812, which will track assets seized by law enforcement.

According to the bill, law enforcement will have to give "a description of each item seized" and "the approximate value of the property."

Wayne County Sheriff Jody Ashley spoke to WDAM about the changes his department will have to make.

"We will have to abide by what the Mississippi state legislature has handed down to us," Ashley said. "It's a paperwork trail and it's a timely issue. You must have this in place as you seize those assets."

House bill 812 also states that failure to follow the bill would "disqualify the seizing law enforcement agency from applying for or receiving federal or state grants" until they comply.

Several law enforcement agencies in the pine belt have requested grants for their respective departments, including Sheriff Jody Ashley.

"If you're not abiding by this ruling. it plainly states that you will not receive state or federal grants. So, you want to go exactly by the ruling," said Ashley.

The Mississippi Rules of criminal procedure and House Bill 812 went into effect July 1st.