The long-awaited trial in the ongoing District 4 supervisor election challenge between Karl Banks and David Bishop begins in less than two weeks in front of a new judge appointed last month. 

The jury trial in Madison County Circuit Court is scheduled to begin Sept. 25 in Canton, with Circuit Judge Forrest Johnson presiding. 

Johnson has served as a circuit court judge in the Sixth Circuit Court in Adams, Amite, Franklin and Wilkinson Counties for the last 24 years. He is not seeking re-election this year and is set to retire at the end of his term. 

Johnson was appointed Aug. 22, following the recusal of Stephen B. Simpson on Aug. 20. 

At the time, both sides were unsure if the trial would continue as planned. 

On Wednesday, Banks declined to comment on the upcoming trial. He previously voiced his disapproval with the slow pace in which the challenge has proceeded as it nears the three-year mark. 

“Of course we know what the truth is,” Banks, who lost by two votes, said in August. “It’s back to the old dark side of Mississippi’s past. We know that. Everybody knows that. Nobody wants to say it anymore. I’m getting sick and tired of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that come up. If this was in the 1930s I would probably already be hanging from a tree for challenging these people.”

Bishop was unavailable for comment at press time. He said in August that he wanted to get the trial over with and hoped the new judge would keep the same schedule. 

The election challenge dates back almost three years following Bishop’s two-vote win over the incumbent Banks back in November 2015. 

Banks challenged the election results and has been steadfast in his claim that 31 ballots were counted, but not tallied, in the final election totals. He claims had those votes been included in the final tally that he would have been declared the winner. 

Bishop has maintained that all votes were counted and tallied correctly and he is the rightful winner of the election. 

Judge Henry Lackey, who died in August, was initially appointed in the case. Banks attempted to have Lackey recuse himself from the case, which Lackey fought. The matter reached the Mississippi Supreme Court, and the court sided with Lackey, who months later recused himself. 

Lackey was replaced with Judge Richard McKenzie of Hattiesburg. McKenzie recused himself from the case in early August, citing an upcoming surgery coinciding with the trial date. 

Simpson, the 2011 Republican candidate for Mississippi Attorney General, recused himself less than a week after being appointed.