Victory in the Miss. Court of Appeals, as doubtless in many such courts around the country, is more pleasant than losing, but lacks some of the attributes one perhaps associates with victory. It is a station along the way. The defeated party, having kept things in suspense for the year or two which it took for the appeal to be decided, has little to lose in filing a motion for rehearing (of which the MCOA heard, for instance, 251 in 2012). This will take months to be denied. Further delay may be had by a cert petition to the MSSC, which must be ruled on in 90 days and then decided, if granted, in another 180, i.e. nine more months of delay.
We are reminded of the justly celebrated decision of Board of Inland Revenue v. Haddock:
The human mind is admittedly fallible, and in most professions the possibility of occasional error is admitted and even guarded against. But the legal profession is the only one in which the chances of error are admitted to be so high that an elaborate machinery has been provided for the correction of error–and not a single error, but a succession of errors. In other trades to be wrong is regarded as a matter for regret; in the law alone is it regarded as a matter of course. * * *
The institution of one Court of Appeal may be considered a reasonable precaution; but two suggest panic. To take a fair parallel, our great doctors, I think, would not claim to be more respected or more advanced in their own science than our greatest jurists. But our surprise would be great if, after the removal of our appendix by a distinguished surgeon, we were taken before three other distinguished surgeons, who ordered our appendix to be replaced; and our surprise would give place to stupefaction if we were then referred to a tribunal of seven distinguished surgeons, who directed that our appendix should be extracted again. Yet such operations, or successions of operations, are an everyday experience in the practice of law. * * *
At the end of certain hotly contested cases, decided only by a majority in both the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords, the weary and impoverished litigant, adding up the number of judges who have voted for and against him in the various Courts, has found that, per capita, His Majesty’s judges were equally divided on the point in dispute. It is not surprising, then, if many appellants present themselves to that House in a reckless or at least a speculative mood, as a gambler who has backed a succession of losers still hopes to recover all by a wild wager on the final race. The Court of Appeal, to one in this mood, must represent a minor handicap taking place at 3:30. * * *
As for the present case, we decline to discuss it. It will go to the House of Lords in any event, so let it go at once.
–A.P. Herbert, Uncommon Law