2 judge misconduct cases before Mississippi court

By The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Six times so far this year, the Mississippi Supreme Court has sanctioned judges accused of misconduct. The Supreme Court has two more cases coming up this term.

The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance filed complaints against Circuit Judge Albert B. Smith III of Cleveland and Lamar County Justice Court Judge Carol Ann Bustin. The Supreme Court has the final say on such matters.

The commission has recommended a public reprimand and a $1,000 fine for Smith, one of three judges in the 11th Circuit District comprise of Bolivar, Coahoma, Quitman and Tunica counties.

The commission alleged Smith abused his contempt powers and exhibited a confrontational and discourteous courtroom demeanor.

Commission records show Smith has agreed with the facts as presented to the Supreme Court and with the reprimand and fine.

The commission recommended a public reprimand and $500 fine for Bustin.

The commission alleged Bustin issue an arrest warrant for a man based on an affidavit signed by the man’s ex-wife. The commission said Bustin had an attorney-client relationship with the ex-wife, representing her in a separate child custody matter.

Bustin announced in January that she would not seek a third term as judge.

The Supreme Court will decide the cases based on written briefs. It did not schedule oral arguments.

The judicial misconduct cases are among dozens the Supreme Court will consider during its July-August term. Among the others are:

— An appeal by opponents to the incorporation of the Gulf Coast community of Diamondhead. A judge approved the incorporation last November and opponents appealed to the Supreme Court. The area has about 9,000 residents.

— Kenneth Knight’s appeal of his 2010 conviction in Pearl River County for possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell while in possession of a firearm. Prosecutors say Knight sold crack cocaine from his home and then allowed his customers to stay and use the drug there. Knight was sentenced to 10 years.

— Diana Kinsey’s appeal of the dismissal of her wrongful death lawsuit. A Harrison County judge in 2010 ruled that she lacked standing and was too late in bringing claims on behalf of her late stepfather, Ted Watkins, against the Pangborn Corporation and others.