Incumbents line up for 2010 ballots

Most Northeast Mississippi circuit judges and chancellors say they’ll seek re-election in the state’s 2010 non-party elections.
Noticeably absent from responses to a Journal survey are Thomas J. Gardner III of Tupelo and Henry Lackey of Calhoun City, two longtime circuit judges.
Courthouse talk over the past few months has gone both ways about Gardner, with some potential opponents saying they’ll run only if he decides to retire and others saying they’ll run anyway.
Lackey, now in his 70s, has been known through the years for his folksy personality.
But in the past two years, he’s earned accolades for helping federal prosecutors in the notorious case against former Oxford attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and others, who conspired to bribe him for help with a legal-fees lawsuit in Lafayette County.
The deadline to qualify for the elections is May 7.
In recent years, some Mississippi judges races have become ideological battlegrounds with large campaign contributions from special interest groups, especially at the appeals court level.
A Daily Journal survey of the region’s 16 judicial posts shows:
– Circuit District 1 – Alcorn, Itawamba, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc, Prentiss and Tishomingo counties, with four judges, each elected districtwide from a “Place.”
Seeking re-election are Paul S. Funderburk of Tupelo, James L. Roberts of Pontotoc and Jim S. Pounds of Booneville. Gardner also is a judge in this district but did not answer Journal requests about his plans.
The judge to fill Place 1 must come from Alcorn, Prentiss or Tishomingo county; Places 2 and 3 from Itawamba, Lee, Monroe or Pontotoc; and Place 4, from any county in the district.
– Circuit District 3 – Benton, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Lafayette, Marshall, Tippah and Union counties, with three judges, each elected districtwide from a “Place.”
Seeking re-election are Andrew K. Howorth of Oxford and Robert W. Elliott of Ripley. Lackey also is a judge in this district but did not answer Journal inquiries about his plans.
The judge to fill Place 1 must live in Calhoun, Chickasaw, Lafayette or Union counties; Place 2, Benton, Marshall or Tippah; and Place 3, any county in the district.
– Chancery District 1 – Alcorn, Itawamba, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Tishomingo and Union counties, with four judges, each elected districtwide for a “Place.”
Seeking re-election are Jacqueline Mask of Tupelo, Michael Malski of Amory, Talmadge Littlejohn Jr. of New Albany and John A. Hatcher of Booneville.
The chancellor for Place 1 must come from Alcorn, Prentiss or Tishomingo; Places 2 and 3 from Itawamba, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc or Union; and Place 4, from any county in the district.
– Chancery District 14 – Chickasaw, Clay, Lowndes, Noxubee, Oktibbeha and Webster counties, with three judges, one from each “Subdistrict” elected only by the voters of that subdistrict.
Seeking re-election are Ken Burns of Okolona and Jim Davidson of Columbus. No response was received from Chancellor Dorothy Colom of Columbus, though it’s widely believed she will run again.
Subdistrict 1 includes Chickasaw, Webster and parts of Oktibbeha counties; Subdistrict 2 is parts of Clay and Lowndes counties; and Subdistrict 3 is Noxubee and parts of Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties.
– Chancery District 18 – Benton, Calhoun, Lafayette, Marshall and Tippah counties, with two judges, each elected districtwide from a “Place.”
Seeking re-election are Glenn Alderson and Edwin Hayes Roberts Jr., both of Oxford.
State law does not specify territory for each place.
Mississippi’s judges run for a four-year term in the Nov. 2 election, without party affiliations. County court judges are included in this election.
Statewide elections for offices such as governor and district attorney, which do carry party affiliations, will be held in 2011.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal