UPDATE: Bridges appointed to hear Scott-Franks dispute

TUPELO – Senior judge Billy G. Bridges of Rankin County is the new appointment to preside over Lee County’s controversial lawsuit by Superintendent of Education Mike Scott against state and local Democratic Party leaders Jamie Franks and Eric Hampton.

Filed today, the Mississippi Supreme Court tapped Bridges after withdrawal by senior judge Woodrow W. Brand Jr. of Houston.

The case needs a judge because all four of District 1’s circuit judges withdrew or “recused” themselves soon after the lawsuit was filed July 23.

Scott is suing the two men, saying they conspired to interfere with his elected job and to extort money from him with the Franks’ threat of an alienation of affection lawsuit.

Both men deny the allegations.

Franks threatened Scott because of an affair Scott admits with Franks’ then wife, Lisa. The couple divorced in late June.

Franks is chairman of the state party, and Hampton of the Lee County party.

Scott won election in 2007 as a Democrat.

Hampton called a Lee County Executive Committee meeting in mid-July to take action against Scott because of his behavior. The next day he met with the Lee County School Board to talk about Scott.

Since then, party members have criticized the sanctions and said it was not their business to police morality of party members. Recently, the executive committee voted not to comment on the case and to let the courts deal with the issues.

Read more in Saturday’s NEMS Daily Journal.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Click video to hear audio