Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

MISSISSIPPI JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE COMMISSION v. JOHNNY B. THOMAS

OCTOBER 04, 1989

MISSISSIPPI JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE COMMISSION
v.
JOHNNY B. THOMAS, MAYOR AND MUNICIPAL JUDGE



EN BANC

BLASS, JUSTICE FOR THE COURT:

On February 13, 1989, the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance filed a Formal Complaint charging Johnny B. Thomas, mayor and municipal judge of the Village of Glendora, Mississippi, with judicial misconduct in violation of Miss. Const. of 1890, art VI, 177A, as amended. The complaint charges, in Paragraph V, "Facts Common to all Counts" , that Mayor Thomas was indicted in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi. Mayor Thomas entered a Plea Agreement in which he plead guilty to one count of the indictment which charged the operation of an illegal gambling business in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1955. In an separate action, Mayor Thomas was convicted in the justice court of Tallahatchie County

of the misdemeanor offenses of possession of whiskey for resale; of selling alcoholic beverage to a minor and selling beer to a minor, on August 3, 1988; and of selling beer without licenses on October 13, 1988.

 The complaint also charges that Mayor Thomas holds the office of Mayor of Glendora, an executive office, and municipal judge, an office within the judicial branch; and serves as judge in cases in which the Town of Glendora is a party, in violation of Miss. Const. of 1890, art I, 1 and 2.

 Respondent's answer denied that he was a Municipal Court Judge; that the Commission had jurisdiction over him pursuant to Miss. Const. of 1890, art VI, 177A; and that he was guilty of judicial misconduct constituting a violation of Miss. Const. of 1890, art VI, 177A and Code of Judicial Conduct Canons 1, 2A, 2B, 3A(1), 3C(1)(a), 3C(1)(c), 3C(1)(d)(i). Respondent admitted all allegations in Paragraph V, concerning his convictions.

 A hearing was held before a Committee of the Commission on March 29, 1989. The Commission found by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent: serves or has served as municipal court judge for Glendora, in accord with Miss. Code Ann. 21-23-5 (1988 Supp.); was convicted of a felony in the U.S. District Court for the N.D. of Miss., on December 15, 1988; and was convicted of four separate misdemeanors in the justice court of Tallahatchie County, Miss. Based upon these specific findings, the Commission found that Respondent's conduct violated Code of Judicial Conduct of Mississippi Judges Canons 1, 2A, 2B, 3A(1) and 3C(1)(d); and that his conduct constituted conviction of a felony in a court other than a state court of Mississippi and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice which brings the judicial office into disrepute as set forth in Miss. Const. of 1890, art. VI, 177A, as amended. The Commission recommended that Johnny B. Thomas be suspended from holding office as municipal court judge so long as he may be mayor of the village of Glendora, Miss. The Commission further recommended that this Court declare Miss. Code Ann. 21-23-5, which allows a mayor to serve as municipal judge, to be unconstitutional, pursuant to Miss. Const. of 1890, art. I, 1 and 2.

 We adopt, partially, the recommendation of the Commission and hereby suspend Mayor Johnny B. Thomas from holding office as municipal court judge so long as he may be mayor of the village of Glendora, Miss. We find it unnecessary to address the issue raised by the commission as to the constitutionality of Miss. Code Ann. 21-23-5.

 I.

 Respondent contends that the Commission has "absolutely no authority or jurisdiction over matters involving persons outside the judiciary." He urges that any conduct alleged in the complaint occurred when he was not serving as municipal court judge and that although Miss. Const. of 1890, art. VI, 177A allows removal, suspension, fine, or censure of a justice or judge of this state, he is not a holder of a judicial seat within the meaning of that section.

 The Commission's position is that Mayor Thomas presently serves as municipal judge pro tempore; he may serve as municipal judge of Glendora under Miss. Code Ann. 21-23-5; he has completed the required training and has served as municipal judge in the past. Mayor Thomas is presently designated municipal judge pro tempore and served in that capacity at the time of the convictions. He testified that he could serve as judge in the future if he chooses to do so.

 The legislature in creating the municipal court with the mayor as judge, acted within its powers to create inferior courts. In Bell v. McKinney, 63 Miss. 187 (1885), this court held that the Miss. Const. of 1869, art. I, 31 and art. VI, 24 empowered the legislature to establish such inferior courts. Poplarville Sawmill Co. v. Marx & Sons, 117 Miss. 10, 77 So. 815 (1918), decided under the Miss. Const. of 1890, reaffirmed the holding in Bell.

 The Code of Judicial Conduct requires compliance with the code by "(a)nyone, whether or not a lawyer, who is an officer of a judicial system performing judicial functions, . . ." For purposes of the Code any officer performing judicial functions is a judge. A judge pro tempore is defined as a person who is appointed to act temporarily as a judge. Mississippi Code of Judicial Conduct, Miss. Rules of Court, 1989 ed. p. 507.

 The Rules of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance define "Judge" to include a judge of Municipal Court including someone serving as a part time or special judge. Rule 1 (A)(3). Rule 2 gives the Commission jurisdiction to consider the conduct of a judge, as defined. The Commission was created by the Mississippi Legislature and by constitutional amendment to enforce the standards of judicial conduct and to protect the public from judicial misconduct and disabled judges. The rules are to be liberally interpreted so as to carry out the mandate of the electorate by its approval of Miss. Const. of 1890, art VI, 177A, as amended. R. Miss. Comm. on Jud. Perf. 1 (B)(C).

 Municipal courts are validly established inferior courts. We hold that Mayor Thomas is a "judge" within the contemplation of both the Rules of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.