Oh Mississippi, how can we miss you if you just won’t go away?
In an echo of Mississippi’s past, a Justice Court judge here is accused of striking a mentally challenged young man and yelling, “Run, n—–, run.”
The incident occurred at a flea market in the town of
Clarion Canton May 8. The young man, 20-year-old Eric Rivers, was hanging around the vendors as they unloaded their wares, hoping some of them would pay him a few bucks to help. Rivers was confronted by Madison County Justice Court Judge Bill Weisenberger who, for reasons no one seems clear about, did not take kindly to the young black man’s presence. Hence the slap and the shouted racial slur as Rivers ran off.
At this point you’re maybe thinking “Redneck in Mississippi calls black kid a nigger, and also today is a day ending in ‘-day’”, and you are right. But what caught our eye was this bit of info buried in the story in the Clarion-Ledger:
Under Mississippi law, the only requirement to be elected a Justice Court judge is a high school diploma. After taking office, the judges are required to take up to six hours of training a year.
Merciful crap, a court where the judge only needs a high school diploma??? Maybe we have lived a sheltered life, but we have never heard of this. You mean any ex-football jock who squeaked out of Jefferson Davis H.S. with straight D’s can still become a judge in the small-time Justice Courts if he can get enough of his good-ol’-boy drinking buddies to vote for him? Mississippi, you are not doing much to clean up your reputation as being one of the most ass-backwards states in the country.
According to the State of Mississippi Judiciary website,
Justice Courts have jurisdiction over small claims civil cases involving amounts of $3,500 or less, misdemeanor criminal cases and any traffic offense that occurs outside a municipality. Justice Court judges may conduct bond hearings and preliminary hearings in felony criminal cases and may issue search warrants.
We bet there’s little potential for abuse with a system like that in a rural state that has a particularly long history of Balkanization along racial and class lines.
Darlene Ballard, executive director of the state Judicial Commission, said if the allegations are true, they would “violate multiple canons” of the Judicial Code of Conduct.
We understand Ballard is speaking in the measured, legalistic, bureaucrat-ese required of her position, but YA THINK?????