Court DecisionS

1. Taylor Bell v. Itawamba County Board of Education, 859 F. Supp. 2d 834 (N. D. Miss. March 15, 2012); oral argument before Barksdale, J., Graves, J. and Dennis, J., held Dec. 3, 2012;  aff’d in part, rev’d in part and remanded by divided panel, 774 F. 3d 280 (5th Cir. December 12, 2014), petition for rehearing en banc granted,  5 Cir., 2014, 774 F.3d 280); en banc argument May 12, 2015; affirmed, Majority Opinion by Barksdale, J., (5th Cir. August 20, 2015) cert. denied, No. 15-666 (U.S. February 29, 2016).                

First Amendment: School Board’s disciplinary action suspending student for off-campus publication on social media of rap song and lyrics stating with reference to school employees “going to get a pistol down your mouth,”  “betta watch your back,” “I’m going to hit you with my rueger”, and “middle fingers up if you want to cap that nigga” held constitutionally justified under Tinker’s disruption standard.  In affirming the summary judgment decision of Senior U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers, Jr., U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, the 5th Circuit found that

(1) “constitutional rights of students in public school are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings,”

(2) Tinker applied to off-campus speech where “school officials reasonably could find Bell’s rap recording threatened, harassed, and intimidated the two teachers,” and “a substantial disruption reasonably could have been forecast,”

(3) the student’s “admittedly intentionally directing at the school community his rap recording containing threats to, and harassment and intimidation of, two teachers permits Tinker’s application in this case,”

(4) “Tinker governs this analysis when a student intentionally directs at the school community speech reasonably understood by school officials to threaten, harass and intimidate a teacher, even when such speech originated, and was disseminated, off-campus without use of school resources,”

(5) taking the school board’s decision into account and the deference the court must accord it, the student’s recording “reasonably could have been forecast to cause a substantial disruption,” and

(6) there is “no genuine issue of material fact that the school board’s finding the rap recording threatened, harassed, and intimidated the two coaches was objectively reasonable,” and “a substantial disruption reasonably couldhave been forecast as a matter of law.”

In determining the objective reasonableness vel non for forecasting a substantial disruption, the summary judgment record and numerous related factors must be considered against the backdrop of the mission of schools: to educate. It goes without saying that a teacher, which includes a coach, is the cornerstone of education. Without teaching, there can be little, if any, learning. Without learning, there can be little, if any, education. Without education, there can be little, if any, civilization.”

  • The majority opinion concluded that threatening, harassing, and intimidating a teacher impedes, if not destroys, the ability to teach; it impedes, if not destroys, the ability to educate. It disrupts, if not destroys, the discipline necessary for an environment in which education can take place. In addition, it encourages and incites other students to engage in similar disruptive conduct. Moreover, it can even cause a teacher to leave that profession. In sum, it disrupts, if not destroys, the very mission for which schools exist – to educate.”

2. Attala County, Mississippi Branch of the NAACP et al v. Attala County, Mississippi Board of Supervisors et al , 1:11-cv-00060-MPM-JMV (N.D. Miss. July 16, 2014)(Mills, J.) 

  • Dismissal of One Person, One Vote Claims and Claims for Post-Election Relief on Grounds of Mootness; Inapplicability of “Capable of Repetition, Yet Evading Review” Exception to Mootness Doctrine; Failure to Show Egregious Violation of Voting Rights Act.

3. Hancock County Bd. of Supervisors v. Ruhr (Warren County, Wayne County & Simpson County), 2014 WL 1998998, 5th Cir. May 16, 2014

  • Dismissal of one person, one vote claim against multiple counties in second appeal by NAACP Appellants based on inapplicability of appellate doctrine of "capable of repetition, yet evading review" by reason of, inter alia, impact of Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder (U.S. June 25, 2013).

4. B.A. et al v. Mississippi High School Activities Association, Tupelo Public School District, et al, NO.: 1:13CV170-SA-DAS (N.D. Miss. Sept. 18, 2013)(Aycock, J.)

  •  MHSAA 50% Rule Upheld in face of Equal Protection Challenge.

5. NAACP et al. v. Simpson County Board of Supervisors, et al., Civil Action No. 3:11CV123 DPJ-FKB, NAACP et al. v. Warren County Board of Supervisors, et al., Civil Action No. 5:11CV28 DCB-JMR, NAACP et al. v. Wayne County Board of Supervisors, et al., Civil Action No. 4:11CV33 HTW-LRA (S. D. Miss. August 19, 2013) (Guirola, C.J.)

  • Dismissal of One Person, One Vote challenge to redistricting of counties based on mootness.

6. Clein v. Rankin County School District, 78 So. 3d 384 (Miss. App. Jan. 17, 2012) (Chandler, J.), on appeal from Circuit Court of Rankin County, Ms (Chapman, J.)

  • Summary Judgment affirmed in favor of school district based on discretionary function immunity under MTCA and absence of premises liability under Miss. Code Ann. Sections 11-46-9(1)(d) and (v) (Supp. 2011), arising from student's injury while participating in physical education class.

7. Tribull Enterprises, Inc. v. City of Biloxi, (Sept.8, 2010) Circuit Court of Harrison County, Mississippi, Cause No. A2402-2004-124

  • A construction company challenged the City of Biloxi’s imposition of height restrictions and the impact of those restrictions on its proposed real estate development near the flight path of a runway at Keesler AFB. The matter proceeded to trial, the jury found for the City of Biloxi and awarded no damages.

8. NAACP et al. v. Simpson County Board of Supervisors, et al., Civil Action No. 3:11CV123 DPJ-FKB, NAACP et al. v. Warren County Board of Supervisors, et al., Civil Action No. 5:11CV28 DCB-JMR, NAACP et al. v. Wayne County Board of Supervisors, et al., Civil Action No. 4:11CV33 HTW-LRA
(S.D. Miss. May 16, 2011), motion to alter denied (S.D. Miss. June 13, 2011) (Guirola, C. J.)


9. Julia W. Lange, et al. v. City of Batesville, 972 So. 2d 11, 2008 Miss. App. LEXIS 19 (Miss. App. Jan. 8, 2008) (Roberts, J.), affirming No. CV2006-0008LP2 (Circuit Court of Second Judicial District of Panola County, Mississippi)(Opinion and Order Granting Motion for Summary Judgment March 7, 2007)(Ann H. Lamar, Circuit Court Judge) 

10.  Julia W. Lange, et al. vs. City of Batesville, Mississippi, No. 05-60371 (5th Cir. Dec. 21, 2005) (per curiam) 

  • For further informtion, click here.
  • ISSUE AND CLAIM PRECLUSION: SUMMARY JUDGMENT AFFIRMED: Applying Issue and claim preclusion following a state appellate court decision against plaintiffs, the Fifth Circuit affirmed in part and vacated and dismissed w/o prejudice in part a summary judgment for the City.

11. Tunica Web Advertising, et al. vs. Tunica Casino Operators Association, Inc., et al, Civil Action No. 2:03CV234-P-D (N.D. Miss. Dec. 21, 2005) (Pepper, J.) at, rev’d and remanded, 496 F. 3d 403 (5th Cir. 2007)

  • For further information, click here.
  • ANTITRUST: SUMMARY JUDGMENT: Summary Judgment was granted in favor of casinos based on plaintiff’s failure to establish a claim of antitrust violations under Section 1 of Sherman Act, the district court rejecting plaintiff’s argument that liability arose when she could not convince any of the casinos to utilize her domain name or, once created, its primitive website.


1. "Redistricting plan considered." The Bolivar Commercial. June 9, 1982. 66th Year, No. 93

2. "Griffith Goes Global." Delta Business Journal. November 2014.


1. 2010 Census and the VRA's Impact on Redistricting

2. Best Practices for Official Minutes of Public Meetings

3. Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Difficult Passage through the Scylla of the Voting Rights Act and the Charybdis of Shaw

4. Beyond Fracking Wars Intl Community's Response

5. Daubert Motions in Governmental Litigation

6. Elections - Maintaining Essential Services

7. Elections and the Rule of Law in the Face of Terrorism

8. Environmental Racism Suits by Private Plaintiffs after Chester Residents v. Seif

9. Election Law, Voting Rights Act and One Person, One Vote

10. Family and Medical Leave Act - A Road Map

11. Fracking for Shale Gas

12. Georgian Election Law Program 9/25/12

13. Hearing Impact of 1982 Amendments to VRA on Political Representation in the Delta

14. Hot Topics in Election Law

15. IMLA Teleconference Voting Rights Update June 27, 2013

16. Impact of Illegal Immigration on Local Government

17. Impact of the VRAA of 2014 and Shelby v. Holder on Alaska Redistricting

18. Importance of Observers in International Elections

19. Insuring Free and Impartial Elections

20. International Election Principles Remedies in Election Disputes

21. International Election Principles

22. Interplay Between Discovery and Public Records Act

23. Is Your Employee Handbook a Sword or a Shield for Sexual Harassment Claimants?

24. Legal Protections of Democratic Life: The Transparent Election Process

25. Legislative Drafting at the Local Government Level

26. Motion Practice Under Daubert Kumho

27. Multijurisdictional Practice and Ethics

28. Municipal Collaboration in Tackling Corruption

29. Problematic Redistricting Issues Following the 2010 Census

30. Redistricting and Voting Rights Act: Is Shaw Versus Reno the Death Knell for Minority Districts?

31.  Redistricting Following the 2010 Census: What City and County Attorneys Need to Know

32. Redistricting in the Post-Shaw World

33. Reining in Election-Day Dirty Tricks

34. Resolving Conflicts in Multi-Jurisdictional Practice

35. Role of Municipal Government in Protecting Water Quality

36. Role of Science and Federal Policy in Water Management

37. Role of the County Board Attorney: Public Sector Issues

38. Roundtable on the Voting Rights Act

39. Section 2 and Section 5 As Amended by VRAA of 2006

40. Section 2 and Section 5 As Amended by VRAA of 2006

41. Supreme Court Issues Dam Ruling

42. The Fracking Debate Expands

43. The Impact of Shaw v. Reno on Section 2 Litigation

44. The Role of Local Government in Responding to Transnational Terrorism

45. The Section 5 Submission to Justice

46. Tinker Standard as Applied to Off-Campus Social Media by Students

47. Transparency in the Electoral Process

48. Voter Identification, Proof of Citizenship and Voter Registration

49. Voting Rights, Electoral Transparency and Participation in the Political Process

50. What Local Government Counsel Needs to Know about the 2006 Amendment to the Voting Rights Act of 2006

51.  The Next Steps After Ferguson, §1983 Civil Rights Cases Against Police:  Prosecution and Defense after Ferguson, ABA Webinar, Section of State & Local Government Law,  May 14, 2015 (PDF) (PPT)


1.     America Votes! Challenges Facing Modern Election Law & Voting Rights (ABA Section of State & Local Government Law,  3rd ed. Anticipated Release: January 2016, Benjamin E. Griffith, Editor)

The third edition will be in three parts, focusing on Electoral Administration and Technology: The New Challenges; The Challenges for Voting Rights; and The Challenges of One Person, One Vote in Redistricting.  Consisting of 19 chapters written by a total of 21 authors, the third edition has an anticipated publication date of January 2016. The following is the chapter lineup

I.                   Electoral Administration and Technology: The New Challenges

1.     Ann Ravel, Vice-Chair, Federal Election Commission – The Work and Responsibilities of the Federal Election Commission

2.     Doug Chapin, Director, Program for Excellence in Election Administration, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Univ. of Minnesota – The Election Advisory Commn’s responsibilities for enforcing or interpreting federal election law

3.     Candice Hoke, Professor, C|M Law, Cleveland State University, and David Jefferson, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – Public Investment in Election Technologies   

4.     Terry Ao Minnis, Director of Census & Voting Programs, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Language Assistance to Voters

5.     Bob Heath - Using Census Data Sources to Prove Citizenship in Voting Rights Litigation.

6.     John Hardin Young, Sandler Reiff – The Administrative Challenges for Recounts, Contests and Post-Election Audits

II.                The Challenges for Voting Rights

1.     Paul Gronke, Professor, Reed College & Daniel B. German Endowed Visiting Professor, Appalachian State University– Early Voting

2.     Justin Levitt, Professor, Loyola University School of Law – Quick and Dirty: New Misunderstandings of the Voting Rights Act.

3.     Paul Wiley, Class of 2015, Washington & Lee University School of Law -  Section 3 Bail-In

4.     Lorraine Minnite, Professor, Department of Public Policy & Administration, Rutgers University  – The Voter Fraud Myth

5.     Tanya Clay House, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law – Voter Suppression Litigation

6.     Tova Andrea Wang, Senior Democracy Fellow, Demos – The Impact of Voter Suppression Tactics on Participation and Mobilization of Low Propensity Voters

7.     Nicole Austin-Hillery, The Brennan Center – Voter ID as Suppression

8.     Marc Elias, Perkins Coie – Voter ID and Legislative Dissembling

9.     Nancy G. Abudu, Legal Director, ACLU Foundation of Florida, Immigration, Voting Rights and Electoral Access

III.             The Challenges of One Person, One Vote in Redistricting

1.     Donald Campbell, Assoc. Professor, Mississippi College School of Law – Partisan Politics, Competitive Districts & the Voting Rights Act

2.     Tommie Cardin, Butler Snow – Finding Middle Ground for State Legislative Reapportionment

3.     Nina Perales, Vice-President of Litigation, MALDEF – The Texas Experience with Voter ID and Redistricting

4.     Vince Fontana and Ben Griffith – Nuts and Bolts of Section 2 Vote Dilution Litigation from the Defense Perspective

 2.     2015 London Sessions: A Magna Carta for True Local Government: 800 Years of Lessons from the U.K. and U.S., 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm, Friday, June 12, 2015, Abermarle Suite, Grosvenor Hotel, London

 In honor of the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta, on June 11-14, 2015 in London, the ABA will present a series of continuing legal education programs and plenary sessions featuring preeminent speakers. The focus will include the original 1215 version of Magna Carta and its four subsequent versions, as well as the Charter of the Forest that emanated from the 1215 Magna Carta and constrained the powers not only of the King but also of the barons. Of the 16 programs selected, the following is sponsored and presented by the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law: A Magna Carta for True Local Government: 800 Years of Lessons from the U.K. and U.S.

Panelists for this program will include the following:

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE, Local Government Association Independent Group Leader and Vice Chair of the Local Government Association;

Peter Wynne Rees, Professor of Places and City Planning, The Bartlett, UCL Faculty of the Built Environment;

Dr. Anton Cooray, former Law Department Chair, Hong Kong City University, and former chair of Hong Kong town planning board, and professor, City University United Kingdom; and Professor David Callies, who serves on the faculty at the University of Hawaii School of Law.

Benjamin E. Griffith, Past-Chair of the Section and Chair of its International Committee, will serve as moderator.

The panel will address the evolving nature, role, and scope of local government from the perspective of elected representatives, current and former municipal government officials and academic experts in urban planning law and policy from the U.K. and the U.S., and lessons learned relative to local government power, autonomy and intergovernmental relationships over the past 800 years.

3.     Chapter author: Voting Rights from an International Viewpoint, contained in International Election Remedies (ABA Standing Committee on Election Law and Section on International Law, Anticipated Release Date: Early 2016, John H. Young, Editor)

Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that “everyone has the right to an effective remedy.” An effective remedy is of paramount importance to the electoral dispute resolution process. While the leading books on international elections and electoral dispute resolution touch on remedies without fully developing the subject, none provide an in-depth development. Yet preventing and resolving violations of the election laws through the development of remedies are the main goal of the electoral dispute process. Violations occur across the legal landscape and trigger multiple remedies. The ABA Standing Committee on Election Law is undertaking to create the leading resource on electoral remedies. The chapter that I have been asked to write, Voting Rights From An International Viewpoint, will include practical guidance and checklists for use by election officials, candidates, international organizations and others.

4.    Co-Presenter (with Vince Fontana), The Voting Rights Act at 50, IMLA Annual Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, October 5, 2015

 As the Nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the “Crown Jewel of the Civil Rights Movement”, this program will provide IMLA members with a timely snapshot of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended. With a focus on today’s political and legal landscape, the program will be presented by two experienced litigators who have worked in the trenches of VRA litigation for the past four decades. With preparations underway for the 2016 Election Year, the Supreme Court and lower courts have been active in addressing racial gerrymandering, population equality under the one person, one vote principle, Voter ID and voter suppression claims, and the viability of Section 3 bailout” in light of Shelby County v. Holder’s immobilization of Section 5. Speakers will examine the VRA from its inception until today and will highlight key cases under Section 2 and Section 5 during the past five years. IMLA members will learn the basics of how to defend a Section 2 voting dilution case and a Section 5 retrogression case in light of Shelby County v. Holder and the most current precedent. The program will conclude with an overview of DOJ’s anticipated approach to Voting Rights litigation and enforcement in the future. In addition to the most recent cases decided by the Supreme Court and now pending before the various Courts of Appeals, other specific topics to be covered will include

►at-large and single-member districts,

►cumulative voting and other alternative electoral systems, and

►the role of race and partisan politics in litigation under the VRA after Alabama Black Legislative Caucus v. Alabama.

5.    Speaker, YLD Election Law Program: Evenwel, The Impact of Shelby County, Voter ID & Early Voting, ABA Young Lawyers Division, ABA Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, August 2016


6.    WJA Panel Speaker: Justice, Civil Service and the Internet: "Hacking Municipal Government: IT Best Practices for the Protection of Confidential, Proprietary and Other Sensitive Local Government Data", World Jurist Association Biennial World Congress, Barcelona Hilton, Barcelona, Spain, May 19-21, 2016