Appeals, Circuit seats go to Barnes, Gregory

Incumbent Judge Donna M. Barnes bested public defender Kelly Mims on Tuesday to retain her seat on the Mississippi Court of Appeals for the Northern District.
They both are from Tupelo. Barnes has been on the court since 2004.
With totals from 381 of 421 precincts, Barnes had 71,893 votes, or 53 percent, to Mims’ 63,472 votes, or 47 percent.
Barnes, 49, was appointed to the court by Gov. Haley Barbour, who endorsed her in the non-partisan race. She was in private practice in Tupelo before her appointment.
She declined comment late Tuesday night, saying she wanted to wait until all the votes were counted. The Associated Press had declared her the winner.
Mims, 39, is a public defender and touted his public service experience in the military, as well as his private industry work. He came late to the legal profession, while Barnes went straight into her career from law school.
She was the finance champ of the fight, taking in more than $108,000 compared with Mims’ $55,550, according to state reports filed a week ago.
Mississippi elects all of its judges, but appeals, chancery and circuit court candidates run without party designation. County justice court judges, who can run by party, will be on the statewide ballot in 2011.
Across Northeast Mississippi’s 21 judicial races, seven were contested.
The newly elected judges take their seats in January.
In perhaps the region’s most hotly contested circuit race, longtime Chickasaw County attorney John Gregory won the seat occupied by retiring Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City.
The three-way contest in Circuit District 3, Place 3, pitted Gregory against Oxford attorneys Tom Levidiotis and Dave Rozier. Gregory took the judgeship with 63 percent of the vote.
Incumbent Circuit Judge Robert Elliott of Ripley won re-election over Shirley C. Byers of Holly Springs in District 3, Place 2.
In District 1, Place 2, Circuit Judge Paul S. Funderburk of Tupelo won overwhelming re-election with 81 percent of the vote against Tupelo attorney Frank Liebling.
A runoff Nov. 23 appeared likely to decide the winner of a new circuit judgeship in the Golden Triangle’s District 16, Place 3. All three candidates are from West Point.
With 64 of 67 precincts reporting, Lee Coleman led the totals, followed by Nebra Porter, with 31 percent and Bob Marshall, with 29 percent.
Incumbent Circuit Judge James T. “Jim” Kitchens of Caledonia beat Columbus attorney William Starks in District 16, Place 1.
In the only contested chancery race, longtime chancellor Edwin H. Roberts Jr. of Oxford held onto his seat in District 18, Place 2, by defeating Helen Kennedy Robinson of Oxford.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal