- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Hinds County Sheriff Tyrone Lewis has authority to hire and assign bailiffs to the local courts, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Lewis challenged an order from Circuit Judge Tomie Green that he argued took away his constitutional and statutory right to appoint and assign bailiffs and to decide how much they will be paid.

In 2012, Green reaffirmed an order issued first in 1996 giving the circuit court authority to hire bailiffs, set their salaries and schedule when they would work. The order has been supported by other judges on the court.

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision Thursday, threw out those orders.

The attorney for the judges had argued in court papers that the sheriff cannot remove bailiffs from the courthouse for non-judiciary related tasks and once a bailiff has been assigned to a judge, the bailiff cannot not be fired or transferred without the judge’s consent.

The Supreme Court said the courts cannot issue orders that don’t follow the law.

“The Legislature has empowered the sheriff with the authority to appoint, remove, and compensate bailiffs. The sheriff’s duties determine the duties of the bailiffs; thus, bailiffs are always assigned to the sheriff and attend court as deputies of the sheriff,” Justice Josiah Dennis Coleman wrote in the decision.

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