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IN RE: INQUIRY CONCERNING A JUDGE NO. 83-167

AUGUST 29, 1984

IN RE: INQUIRY CONCERNING A JUDGE NO. 83-167, BILLY GUNN BROWN




EN BANC.

ROY NOBLE LEE, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance and the respondent, Justice Court Judge Billy Gunn Brown, have filed in this Court a motion praying the Court to accept findings of fact submitted by the Commission pursuant to a formal complaint filed with it on January 23, 1984, against the respondent. The Commission recommended that Justice Court Judge Brown be publicly reprimanded by this Court and fined the sum of fourteen hundred dollars ($1,400) *fn1 in order to prevent his undue enrichment, all in accordance with Section 177A of the Mississippi Constitution 1890. We accept the findings of fact and the recommendation of the Commission, but we apply an additional sanction.

We mean no criticism or disrespect to the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance. The members of the Commission have worked tirelessly and faithfully in discharging their duties and have rendered a fine service to the Bench and Bar. However, this Court has the final responsibility and duty in matters considered by the Commission.

 In Re: Lloyd W. Anderson, 412 So.2d 743 (Miss. 1982), succinctly stated our duty as follows:

 The power to impose sanctions is delegated solely to this Court; it therefore follows we have an obligation to conduct an independent inquiry of the record in order to make our final determination of the appropriate action to be taken in each case. In so doing, we will accord careful consideration to the findings of fact and recommendations of the Commission, or its committee, which has had the opportunity to observe the demeanor of the witnesses. [412 So.2d at 746].

 The evidence, including the respondent's admissions, overwhelmingly supports the Commission's findings of fact and that the respondent from 1976 through 1983 converted to his own use money of civil litigants in his court aggregating twenty-one thousand nine hundred eighty-three dollars and thirty-two cents ($21,983.32) involving one hundred seventy (170) different cases. The Commission found such conduct to be willful misconduct in office, conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and conduct which brought disrepute

 to the office. In our opinion, not only has that misconduct brought the office of Justice Court Judge, District 3, Lauderdale County, into disrepute, but has reflected upon every other Justice Court in the State and the entire judiciary.

 Justice Court Judge William Anderson was fined and removed from office for misconduct which involved conversion of litigants' money in an aggregate amount not exceeding fifty dollars ($50.00). In Re: Inquiry Concerning Judge William Anderson, No. 55,346, decided June 6, 1984 [Not Yet Reported].

 Justice Court Judge Lloyd W. Anderson was removed from office for charging traffic violators greater sums to be paid as fines than those reported by him to the county totalling two hundred fourteen dollars ($214.00). In Re: Lloyd W. Anderson, 412 So.2d 743 (Miss. 1982).

 In Hannah v. State, 336 So.2d 1317 (Miss. 1976), Justice of the Peace Hannah was convicted of converting county property in the amount of eleven hundred seventy-six dollars fifty cents ($1,176.50) in his possession. The trial judge sentenced him to a term of seven (7) years in the state penitentiary and removed him from office, as the law required. In Donald v. State, 339 So.2d 1359 (Miss. 1976), a companion case, the same sentence and removal from office were imposed.

 If continued in office as Justice Court Judge, District 3, Lauderdale County, Mississippi, the respondent will impose fines and jail sentences on persons guilty of misdemeanors (petty offenses). How ironic, when, over a period of seven (7) years, he has misappropriated $21,983.32 through that office. The misdemeanor offenses pale into insignificance when compared to his own'

 The record shows by clear, convincing and overwhelming evidence that the respondent is guilty of misconduct which brought the office of Justice Court Judge in District 3, Lauderdale County, into disrepute. That office will remain in disrepute as long as respondent occupies it. In our opinion, the appropriate sanction for such conduct is, and should be, removal from office. Therefore, the respondent, Justice Court Judge Billy Gunn Brown, is fined the sum of $1,400.00, is publicly reprimanded by causing the the findings of fact and recommendation of the Commission to be published in the Southern Reporter (2d Series), Mississippi Cases, and respondent Billy Gunn Brown is removed from the office of Justice Court Judge, District 3, Lauderdale County, Mississippi.

 RESPONDENT BROWN FINED $1,400, REPRIMANDED, AND REMOVED FROM OFFICE.

 PATTERSON, C.J., WALKER, P.J., BOWLING, HAWKINS, PRATHER, ROBERTSON and SULLIVAN, JJ., ...


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