Justice court procedures outlined following incident

Published 12:11am Saturday, January 26, 2013

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors made explicit Friday an order for the justice court staff to work with the justice court judiciary to set up contempt of court hearings for those who have not paid their back fines.

The order came after the board met in executive session to discuss the job performance of Justice Court Clerk Audrey Bailey. Part of the session excluded Bailey, but she also addressed the board behind the closed-door session.

That discussion came a day after Bailey reportedly entered Judge Charlie Vess’ courtroom and told him she would seek legal recourse because she believed comments he made had slandered her. Vess had spoken from the bench earlier that morning to two of the supervisors — David Carter and Mike Lazarus, who were present in the courtroom — about what he perceived to be a lack of cooperation from the justice court staff in setting up the contempt hearings.

Vess has been scheduling special court days to have contempt hearings in an attempt to collect the county’s owed fines. The problem, he said, is that while he can schedule court days it is the job of the court clerk to notify those in contempt of court that they must appear.

Friday, the board voted to issue an order to for the justice court clerk’s office to set up contempt hearing notices for the judges to sign, and once the notices are signed Bailey must send them.

Board Attorney Scott Slover said he will also be sending a copy of the state statute about collecting fines to the justice court judges so that they will be reminded to collect the money at the time of sentencing if possible.

Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said that if the sheriffs deputies who are serving the contempt notices cannot find the person in question, they can return the notice to Bailey, who can file it as undelivered.

The judge can issue a bench warrant for those with undelivered contempt notices if he so chooses, Grennell said.

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate the quick response by the Board in an attempt to solve this problem. A few things should be pointed out though. First this still allows the Chief Clerk to pick and choose which friends, relatives, or politically connected are not brought up to the judges attention. A complete list, by statute, is to be presented to the Board twice a year. If that list is not presented then the law reads, failure to produce the report would result in the clerk not being paid and other actions. While I appreciate an effort to move forward nothing apparently was done except a slap on the wrist (again) and “we will give you yet another chance to do your job”. Another concern was no mention was made about the insubordinate action taken when the Chief Clerk disrupted a court in session. Ms. Bailey stood in the door in front of 10 witnesses and made her threats. Would the Board (white-wash) similar behavior if such conduct had occurred in any other Adams county court or maybe even their own proceedings when conducting county business? All, was asked of the Chief Clerk was a “simple” apology and the matter would be closed. While the Board met with her in closed door session I was not given the same courtesy, and I am truly disappointed. Clearly some chosen few are protected and others have to comply with policy as written in the Adams County employee handbook. While I will continue to serve the public to the best of my ability I feel sad I could not have an “equal opportunity” to address the Board on these serious problems. Judge Charlie Vess aka Redsail.

  • LdyBreez

    It is all well and good that the staff now has a procedure to set up hearings for and collect past due fines. This article does not go into any disciplinary actions against Bailey for entering an open court session and threatening a justice court judge while he was on the bench. It is a shame that the Justice Court Judges have to take problems with Justice Court staff to the BOS and cannot handle problems (with the staff) inside the Justice Court building themselves. Then when all that is asked for from Bailey for her total lack of respect for the court, the judge and anyone in the court room, is an apology, he is not even given that.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for addressing this issue publicly. Wish our other judges would address their accusations. Keep up the good work and please do not retire. You are exposing our inner problems with the court system that the general public will never know without insider help. Vote for Vess!!!!!

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    My opinion is that there should be a audit and investigation by the state of Ms. Bailey should be relieved till the investigation is complete with out pay!! This latest turn the arrow on the BOS are involved directly with the problem for hear say is that the BOS friends and kin let there kin and friend off from paying their fines!! Taxpayers want to know the truth of burden and see some people fired!!

  • Anonymous

    The finger is pointing at the BOS who has failed again to fully address this problem, just a stopgap measure to make it look like they have done something. They have failed to address this problem productively at least for the past year while the problem has been well publicized (balance has doubled). They have failed to resolve the issue you mention that the clerk can still “bypass” the system at her discretion (choose who she wants to put on the agenda). They have failed to address the issue why the collection agency has allowed the balance of fines to almost double in the past year they have been on the job ($2MM – $4MM). They have failed to address the problem with the other judges in justice court taking a hands off approach on collecting these fines (no mention ever of actions by other judges, thus assumed inaction). And, most of all, they have miserably failed to address insubordination by an employee toward a superior official and to give you your “day in court” to fully expose the system shortcomings for appropriate action to be taken. Again, as before, they have failed to address alternative actions to collect these fines through interaction with other city, county, and state (MHP driver license) agencies these people have to utilize and force collection through those agencies before services are provided. In this case, it is nice to be an elected official since you can’t be fired by the BOS, however, they don’t seem to ever fire anyone anyway.

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    This isn’t going to get be brushed under the rug for us the people want to see some action on this and also the ND needs to investigate this to let the community know whats going on!! I think its ashame of the BOS not giving the judge the same treatment of behind the door talk as they had done for Bailey! This tells me the BOS are hiding something from the taxpayers and I feel its more serious than folks being fired but folks going to prison!! I as a taxpayer want to know why the BOS haven’t been on top of this that the amount went a period of time to being 1 million to 2 million and now its 4 million dollars tells me the buzzards are circling the BOS office and it stinks to high heaven!!

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    Red sail something has got to happen on this case ASAP!!

  • Anonymous

    You hit the nail on the head!

  • Anonymous