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Mississippi Comm'n on Judicial Performance v. Littlejohn

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

June 18, 2015

MISSISSIPPI COMMISSION ON JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE
v.
TALMADGE D. LITTLEJOHN

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/20/2014.

Page 1158

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: COMMISSION ON JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. H. DAVID CLARK, II.

FOR APPELLANT: MISSISSIPPI COMMISSION ON JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE, BY: DARLENE D. BALLARD, BONNIE H. MENAPACE.

FOR APPELLEE: TALMADGE D. LITTLEJOHN (PRO SE).

DICKINSON, PRESIDING JUSTICE. WALLER, C.J., RANDOLPH, P.J., LAMAR, KING AND COLEMAN, JJ., CONCUR. KITCHENS, J., CONCURS IN PART AND DISSENTS IN PART WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION JOINED BY CHANDLER, J. CHANDLER, J., CONCURS IN PART AND DISSENTS IN PART WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION JOINED BY PIERCE, J.; KITCHENS, J., JOINS IN PART.

OPINION

Page 1159

DICKINSON, PRESIDING JUSTICE

[¶1] The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance has determined that Chancellor Talmadge Littlejohn has violated multiple Canons of Judicial Conduct. The Commission has recommended that we impose a $500 fine, issue a public reprimand, and tax Chancellor Littlejohn with costs of this proceeding. While we agree with the Commission that Chancellor Littlejohn committed misconduct, we do not adopt the recommended sanctions. Chancellor Littlejohn has refused to take responsibility for his misconduct, and the recommended sanctions are not commensurate with sanctions imposed for similar misconduct in past cases. We suspend Chancellor Littlejohn from office for thirty days without pay, fine him $1,000, order that he be publicly reprimanded, and tax him with the costs of these proceedings.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

[¶2] In March 2012, Chancellor Littlejohn modified a 2001 Agreed Order of Filiation and Support between Ronald Brooks and Janice Fields, and ordered Brooks to pay Fields $15,000 for an automobile for their child within ninety days, and $1,750 in attorney fees within sixty days. Brooks posted a supersedeas bond, which the chancery clerk approved, and appealed Chancellor Littlejohn's order to this Court.

[¶3] Because he had posted the supersedeas bond, Brooks did not pay the sums ordered while the appeal was pending. Nevertheless, on August 7, 2012, Fields filed a contempt complaint against Brooks. Chancellor Littlejohn acknowledged that Brooks had posted a supersedeas bond but nevertheless held him in contempt for his failure to pay and ordered him incarcerated until he paid the entire amount of $16,750. Brooks spent three days and two nights in jail. During his incarceration, he filed an emergency appeal with this Court, and we vacated Chancellor Littlejohn's contempt finding and ordered Brooks released.

[¶4] On May 22, 2013, the Commission filed its complaint against Chancellor Littlejohn, alleging violations of Canons 1, 2A, 3B(2), and 3B(8) of the Code of Judicial Conduct. After a formal hearing, the Commission concluded that Chancellor Littlejohn had committed misconduct, and it recommended that we impose a $500 fine and a ...


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