By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – Longtime Lee County Justice Court Judge Pat Carr will adjourn court for the last time next week.
Carr will vacate the elected office about 19 months before his term ends.
Lee County Board of Supervisors President Darrell Rankin read a letter from Carr at Monday’s board meeting announcing he would leave office next week “as a result of recent health issues.” His last day on the job will be May 31.
A special election to fill the District 1 seat, which pays $47,844 annually, will appear on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.
The board appointed Tupelo attorney Dennis Voge to serve as interim judge beginning June 1. He isn’t expected to seek the office in the special election.
District 2 supervisor Bobby Smith said Carr has “done a good job” and understood the judge’s health concerns limiting his work.
“It’s unfortunate we get to a point when with our health sometimes this has to happen,” said Smith, who attended high school with Carr.
Carr said in a telephone interview Monday that his plans to leave office have nothing to do with the most recent judicial misconduct complaint filed against him.
A Mooreville woman filed a complaint with the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance in September 2013 related to what she claimed were Carr’s comments siding with her ex-husband, who faced charges of breaking a window in a car in which she was riding with a friend and then physically attacking her. Carr said in August he didn’t remember making the comments.
The judge of more than 20 years said Monday his decision to leave office involved health issues. “Judicial performance has nothing to do with this,” he said. “It has nothing to do with getting put out of office.”
No public records exist of the state Supreme Court making public any punishment against Carr related to the accusations. However, from 1995 to 2008, the state’s highest court ruled the judge has acted inappropriately four times, which involved punishments including 60 days suspension of judicial duties without pay and a $2,000 fine.
In 2003, Carr was fined $500 after dismissing a domestic abuse case without allowing the victim or witnesses to testify.
All justice court judge positions and other elected county offices with four-year terms will appear on the ballot in 2015. Educational requirements for justice court judge don’t include a law degree, only a high school diploma.
Another local official and Carr colleague, Justice Court Judge Rickey Thompson, faces possible sanctions from the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance related to undisclosed matters.