Last week, all of the circuit judges in District 1, where the lawsuit was filed, officially excused themselves from presiding over it.
While the recusal order wasn’t available Monday, the four judges – Paul Funderburk, “Jim” Seth Pounds, James Roberts and Thomas Gardner III – face re-election Nov. 2, and campaign contributions from attorneys are common.
Presiding over a case that directly involves a contributor is a conflict of interest and could be grounds for the losing side to appeal.
The Mississippi Supreme Court can appoint a sitting judge from another district or a retired judge to hear the case.
The Franks-Scott dispute stems from an extramarital affair between Scott and his employee Lisa Franks, who at the time was married to Jamie Franks.
It became public in mid-July when Hampton met with the Lee County School Board. Hampton then told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that the local Democratic Executive Committee voted July 12 to reprimand Scott, who ran as a Democrat in 2007, for the affair.
On July 1, Jamie Franks’ attorneys filed a “notice of claim” with Scott, each of the five Lee County School Board members and Gary Carnathan, its attorney.
In that notice, they provided details of their client’s alienation of affection allegations against Scott and said Franks wanted a minimum of $500,000 in damages for the affair and its negative effects on him.
The Frankses were granted a divorce in late June on grounds of irreconcilable differences.
Scott sued Franks and Hampton on July 23, first asking the circuit court to decide that he shouldn’t owe Franks anything because Scott insists it was Jamie Franks’ behavior that “alienated” Lisa Franks to want to end their marriage.
Hampton, a Tupelo businessman, is being sued because Scott accuses Jamie Franks of using Hampton to bring Scott’s behavior before the party’s executive committee for a vote on sanctions. Franks and Hampton repeatedly deny they worked in concert to embarrass or threaten Scott.
Jamie Franks and Hampton have 30 days from July 23 to respond to his allegations.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or email@example.com.