Justice court judges handle thousands of local cases every year, and sometimes problems arise.
Three of Lee County’s judges have been admonished by the Mississippi Supreme Court after investigations by the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance.
MCJP is the state’s watchdog agency for complaints about all judges. Its appointed commissioners weigh evidence and recommend sanctions to the court.
Here’s a look at their cases:
n Judge Pat Carr – 1995, private reprimand; 2000, public reprimands; 2003, public reprimand, $500 fine, $1,400 costs; 60-day suspension without pay, public reprimand, $2,000 fine and $100 costs.
n Judge John Hoyt Sheffield – 2004, public reprimand, $192 fine, $100 costs.
n Judge Rickey Thompson – 2005, private admonishment; 2007, public reprimand, $100 costs.
Carr’s first complaint came after he interfered in a dispute involving a business he owned.
Next, he got into trouble after he twice improperly allowed print and broadcast media to record proceedings in his court.
The third complaint came from a domestic violence case in which both sides came to a hearing, but Carr refused to hear or receive any evidence. Instead he took the matter under advisement before dismissing the charges.
His suspension without pay, which he accepted, came in 2008 after he got into trouble for what the Commission said was using the “influence of his office” to interfere in a spat over the removal and return of an iron fence at a private cemetery.
The Supreme Court terms “significant” that violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct and questioned his “moral turpitude.”
Sheffield’s citation came after he became frustrated when the court lacked funding for a bailiff and he set out to “teach the county a lesson” by holding court and suspending fines and state assessments in more than a dozen cases. He had been cautioned in 2002 about suspending fines.
Thompson admitted that in 2006 he inappropriately interfered with court proceedings after one sister sought to file charges against another. A year earlier he admitted that he improperly spoke with parties who had a matter pending before him.
Patsy R. Brumfied/NEMS Daily Journal