Mullins, Vess compete for justice court judge job

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NATCHEZ — With Justice Court Judge candidate Gary Mullins selling himself as a “fresh face” and incumbent Judge Charlie Vess playing on his years of experience, it will be up to voters to decide Aug. 2 who makes the better case.

Gary Mullins

It’s time to re-energize the justice system, Mullins said, and said he feels he’s the right man for the job.

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“I decided to run because I thought our criminal justice system was not up to par,” he said. “I wanted to be involved in trying to help the community, and I was worried about the growing crime rate in Natchez, and nothing really seemed to be getting done.”

Gary Mullins

Mullins said he’s the best candidate for the position because he’s a fresh face who’s eager to learn.

“I’m very energetic about this position,” he said. “I feel (compelled) to protect the people of Adams County and make sure those who are guilty of a crime are held accountable.”

While Mullins acknowledged that there is something to be said for experience, he said there’s always room for improvements.

“It’s not about the experience I have,” he said. “It’s about the experience I would gain, and I would be able to make things fair for the citizens of Adams County.”

Mullins said the biggest duty that would come with winning the justice court judge seat would be making sure people who commit crimes are disciplined.

He also emphasized that he’ll be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to local law enforcement.

“Even though I have another job, that job will play second fiddle (to the judge’s seat),” he said.

Charlie Vess

Vess said the justice court has a young, energetic staff in place, and he felt while they were still getting up to speed, he wanted to hold the judge’s seat for at least another term.

“(I wanted to) keep things going in a timely and professional manner,” he said.

Charlie Vess

The combination of his experience on the bench, education and ability to offer himself as a fulltime judge to law enforcement officials day and night qualify him for the job, he said.

Vess said in his 20 years experience as the justice court judge, he’s probably heard 25,000 cases, both civil and criminal.

“It’s been said that our court is a ‘revolving-door’ court system for criminals,” he said. “In my court, that’s absolutely not true. Anyone in the community can check the record at any time.”

Giving back to the community is something Vess said he also enjoys doing.

For example, he said, he just got done training Natchez Police Department officers in dealing with domestic violence matters, a program he initially started through grant funds.

Grants helped him, Vess said, so in return, he turned around to help someone else.

Some of the biggest responsibilities that come with being justice court judge are being accessible to the public and law enforcement officials at all times, he said.

“(A judge has to) be user-friendly with the community,” Vess said.