Justice court procedures outlined following incidentPublished 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.