Do you have a complete record for appealing a decision of a governing authority or county?

By: Christopher Solop

Recently, the Mississippi Supreme Court provided some needed guidance on what constitutes “the record” on an appeal of a decision by a governing authority of a municipality or county under Miss. Code Ann. § 11-51-75 (Rev. 2019).  Board of Supervisors of Jackson County, Mississippi v. Qualite Sports Lighting, LLC, 2022 WL 1420151, -- So.3d --, (Miss. 2022) involved an appeal from the Jackson County Board of Supervisors’ rejection of Qualite Sports Lighting, LLC (“Qualite”) proposal. [link to decision below]  After filing its notice of appeal, Qualite sought to engage in discovery which the trial court denied. It did, however, order the parties to decide what records should be included as part of the record on appeal. When the parties could not agree about the content of the record, the board of supervisors filed a motion to stay with the trial court and filed an interlocutory appeal “seeking an interpretation of the scope of ‘the record’ pursuant to Section 11-51-75.“

On appeal, the Supreme Court reviewed the language of § 11-51-75 and found the statute unambiguous.  The Court concluded that “the plain language of the statute can only support the conclusion that the appeal permitted by the Legislature is one in which new evidence cannot be considered.”  The Court reversed the trial court’s order to the extent it might permit an expansion of the record before the board of supervisors at the time of its decision.

The lesson to be learned here is, that if you anticipate a potential challenge to a procurement decision or any decision of a board of supervisors, make sure that you have included all the relevant documents you may need for an appeal of a potential adverse decision.  Further, to the extent possible, you should also seek an appearance before the board and confirm that it is being recorded.