Names emerge for DeLaughter's vacated post

JACKSON – A state representative and Youth Court judge have emerged as potential candidates to replace former Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter.
State Rep. Phillip Gunn of Clinton and Hinds County Youth Court Judge Bill Skinner are the names widely being mentioned for the $104,700-a-year position.
Another name that has surfaced is special Circuit Judge Bill Gowan.
“I have had many of my friends from the legal community calling me about it,” Gunn said of the judgeship. “But equally, I have my friends from the political community calling wanting me to stay where I am.”
DeLaughter resigned his judicial post prior to entering his guilty plea Thursday to an obstruction of justice charge in Aberdeen.
Gov. Haley Barbour’s Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee will review applications and make a recommendation to the governor.
Barbour’s appointee will serve out DeLaughter’s term, which ends Dec. 31, 2010.
Whoever is nominated by the governor will have an advantage in the 2010 regular election for the post. The Seventh Judicial District, Sub-district 4 post includes parts of Jackson, Byram, Clinton and Raymond.
Gunn is an attorney at the law firm of Wells Marble amp& Hurst in Ridgeland, working primarily in the areas of civil litigation and insurance defense. He is a former president of the Clinton School Board and has been a state representative since 2004.
Skinner is a former Jackson police officer and was a Hinds County Justice Court judge before being elected County Court judge in November 2006. In his role as County Court judge, he presides over the Youth Court.
In July 2008, Gowan was selected by the Mississippi Supreme Court to serve as special Hinds County Circuit Court judge to help move cases through the judicial system. He is the former undersheriff and legal counsel for the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department.
Skinner and Gowan couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.
Retired Hinds County Circuit Judges L. Breland Hilburn and William Coleman have been handling DeLaughter’s court docket since his suspension.
DeLaughter had been on suspension with pay since March 2008 because of judicial complaints for cases not associated with the criminal charge.
Coleman, who handles DeLaughter’s civil docket, said he and Coleman will serve until a replacement is named.
“We will continue to dispose of anything we have in progress,” Coleman said.
In addition to DeLaughter’s departure, senior Hinds Circuit Judge Swan Yerger has announced he won’t seek re-election next year. Yerger has been on the bench for 12 years.

Jimmie E. Gates/Clarion-Ledger