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IN RE: INQUIRY CONCERNING JUSTICE COURT JUDGE RALPH M. HEARN

NOVEMBER 25, 1987

IN RE: INQUIRY CONCERNING JUSTICE COURT JUDGE RALPH M. HEARN




ORDER

On June 3, 1986, the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance ("Commission") filed a formal complaint against Justice Court Judge Ralph M. Hearn, charging him with judicial misconduct constituting a violation of 177A, Miss. Constitution of 1890. On October 9, 1986, Judge Hearn filed an answer to the formal complaint, admitting certain parts, denying the remainder, and denying that his actions constituted judicial misconduct. On March 19, 1987, and March 20, 1987, a hearing was held before a committee of the Commission in this inquiry, with both the Commission and Judge Hearn represented by counsel. Based upon the evidence adduced at the hearing the Commission found by clear and convincing evidence that Judge Hearn had found criminal defendants not guilty without a trial or notice to the officer, that other officials had attempted to influence Judge Hearn in these cases, that the judge had improperly assessed constable fees, that he had wrongfully entered a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, that he had interfered with the orderly assignment of cases, and that he had engaged in improper conduct in the handling of criminal bad check cases. The Commission found that this conduct violated the code of judicial conduct

of Mississippi judges, that it constituted willful and persistent failure to perform the duties of office, and that the conduct was prejudicial to the administration of justice and brings the judicial office into disrepute. The Commission recommended by unanimous vote that Judge Hearn be publicly reprimanded and fined $250 pursuant to 177A of the Mississippi Constitution. In accordance with Rule 10 (D) of the Rules of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance, the Commission submitted its brief in support of the record, findings and recommendations of the Commission to this Court. Judge Hearn likewise filed a brief in support of the Commission's findings and recommendations, and accepts the findings and the sanctions recommended by the Commission.

The Commission's findings of fact and recommendations in the case of In Re Inquiry Concerning a Justice Court Judge (Ralph M. Hearn), No. 86-004, dated May 21, 1987, have been examined by a panel of this Court composed of Presiding Justice Dan Lee and Justices Michael D. Sullivan and Reuben V. Anderson, *fn1 which panel accepts the Commission's findings of fact and recommendations and adopts and incorporates same in this Order, as follows:

 COMMISSION FINDINGS OF FACT AND RECOMMENDATIONS

 INITIATION OF PROCEEDINGS

 On June 3, 1986, the Commission filed a Formal Complaint charging the Respondent, Ralph M. Hearn, Justice Court Judge for Post One, Lawrence County, Mississippi, with judicial misconduct constituting a violation of Section 177A, Mississippi Constitution of 1890, as amended.

 On October 9, 1986, the Respondent filed an Answer to the Formal Complaint, denying the allegations of judicial misconduct in the Formal Complaint

 HEARING

 On March 19, 1987, and March 20, 1987, this cause came on for formal hearing before a duly designated Committee of the Commission, consisting of Circuit Judge Harvey S. Buck, presiding, Judge Mary T. Foretich and Dr. Cleopatra D. Thompson. The Commission was represented by Luther T. Brantley III of Jackson; the Respondent was present and represented by Robert Glenn Turnage of Monticello.

 FINDINGS

 Based upon the evidence presented at the hearing in this

 cause, the Commission finds the following by clear and convincing evidence, to-wit:

 1.

 During the period of time beginning approximately March, 1985 through March, 1986, the Respondent, in his official capacity as justice court judge, found the defendant not guilty in approximately ninety three (93) criminal cases without conducting a trial or giving notice to the arresting officer. The majority of these cases involved speeding tickets; there were also D.U.I. charges found not guilty in this manner. While there was evidence that other public ...


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