County not likely to lose judge

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 29, 2001

Adams County is likely not in danger of losing a justice court judge and a constable, despite recording a drop in population in Census 2000.

&uot;I’m overjoyed if that is the case,&uot; said Adams County Justice Court Judge Mary Lee Toles.

Concerned that Census results would cause Adams County to lose one of its three judges and one of its three constables, the Adams County Board of Supervisors drafted a local and private bill this month asking the state Legislature to keep the numbers the same.

But Sen. Bob M. Dearing, D-Natchez, said a law approved during the 1980s would prevent any immediate change to Adams County’s judicial system.

&uot;That’s the law of the land,&uot; Dearing said.

The law states that counties with populations between 35,000 and 70,000 have three justice court judges, while those with a population of less than 35,000 only have two.

Another law requires each county to have an equal number of constables and justice court judges.

Based on figures from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the Adams County population dropped from 35,356 in 1990 to 34,340 in 2000.

But the judges’ law draws on the 1980 Census, when Adams County had more than 35,000 residents, and the law still draws on those numbers today, Dearing said. It will not be changed unless new legislation is entered, something Dearing thinks is unlikely.

&uot;They didn’t do it after the ’90 Census, so I think we’re in pretty good shape,&uot; he said.

Adams County Supervisor Virginia Salmon said this turn of events suits her. &uot;If it’s a moot point, well that’s fine,&uot; she said. &uot;If it’s moot – OK – we’ll move on to the next thing.&uot;

Toles said she had not interpreted the 1980s legislation in that way but was glad to hear of it. &uot;I’m extremely hopeful that we will still have three judges,&uot; she said.

With the influx of people from Louisiana, the tourism industry and gambling, Toles said she thinks three judges are needed. &uot;All of us bring something to the table,&uot; Toles said. &uot;I think we all rule based on law.

&uot;Sometimes the judges interpret the law differently but I think we are all good judges,&uot; Toles said.

Adams County’s three justice court judges are Toles, Danny Barber and Charles Vess. Its three constables are Ray Brown, Danny Rollins and Ronnie Wells.