Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Judge Not Thy Neighbor

A justice court judge of Jefferson Davis County was publicly reprimanded and suspended without pay for six months by the Mississippi Supreme Court. The judge had presided over a case where he had known both parties. He had known one of the parties all her life, had served with her father on a church board, and had performed yard work on the property at issue in the eviction case (the judge had a yard services business). The judge had tried to negotiate a sale of the property at issue between the parties and had made comments in court that caused the other party concern. A recusal motion was made and denied.

A concurring opinion felt that  "Quite frankly, in today's vernacular, I am of the opinion that [the judge] has issues." The opinion called the judge's behavior "bizarre." Another concurring opinion noted that it is not uncommon in rural, sparsely-populated areas of Mississippi for a judge to have known a party all thier life. The justice opines that such a relationship alone would not merit recusal. (Mike Frisch)


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