By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
CORINTH – The Commission on Judicial Performance is expected to recommend a reprimand and suspension for Alcorn County Justice Court Judge Jimmy McGee.
The commission will make its recommendations public today.
Based on an investigation that began in July 2010, the commission is recommending to the state Supreme Court that McGee be publicly reprimanded, suspended from office for 120 days without pay and assessed $100.
The commission found that McGee engaged in DUI ticket-fixing and also used his office to improperly interfere with the prosecution of a criminal defendant, according to a source close to the case.
“We as justice court judges are non-lawyers and take a lot of our direction from the county prosecuting attorney,” McGee said. “Everything we did on the tickets we have a written motion from the county attorney asking for the cases to be retired to file while these people were in a faith-based program.”
McGee acknowledged his errors with regard to 21 DUI traffic tickets in relying on the county prosecutor’s recommendations, but said he “emphatically” denies interfering with a defendant receiving counsel from an attorney.
“After several thousand dollars in attorney fees, if you keep fighting you’re just throwing money away, so I agreed to some things” to end the case, he said.
The misconduct findings said McGee did not properly prosecute the misdemeanor DUI charges and in essence reduced the charges. McGee’s sanctions follow similar sanctions recommended against Justice Court Judge Steve Little that were made public in November.
McGee will continue to hear cases in Alcorn County Justice Court until the Supreme Court acts on the commission’s recommendations, which could take several months. Also, the Supreme Court could impose a lighter or a heavier penalty.
To show the positive effects of what he did, McGee points to testimonial letters from the director of the faith-based program and from the defendants and their family members,
“My actions leading up to my public reprimand and suspension were done solely for the purpose of helping the individuals in our community with a dependency on alcohol and drugs,” he wrote in a formal statement. “If my actions have saved one life or one family I am grateful for being able to have been a part of the process.”
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.