Judge right to act like father figure

Published 12:36 am Friday, August 5, 2016

Unfortunately for Adams County Justice Court Judge Charlie Vess, the state of Mississippi does not reward heartfelt leadership.

In fact, in his role, such is frowned upon. Vess, practically a fixture in justice court, has been cited once again by the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance.

In the latest slap on the wrist, the state watchdog suggested Vess was out of line for an exchange he had with a young man in his court.

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Vess said he, the court’s bailiff and a sheriff’s deputy told the man to take his hands from his pockets repeatedly.

Eventually, Vess said, he explained to the man the concern over his hands was that he might have a weapon. Vess apparently said if the man were to pull out a weapon Vess would pull out his own pistol and shoot him.

Vess was correct in our minds in standing his ground and, as he put it, “acting like a father figure instead of a judge, which was the wrong thing to do.”

He told the man’s mother if she could not control her son, he (Vess) would.

Wrong, perhaps, by judicial standards, but correct by what may have been needed in this young man’s life.

Sadly, despite Vess’ parental guidance, the young man has been arrested three more times in recent months, including a charge for his involvement in a July shooting.

While innocent until proven guilty, clearly the young man’s lifestyle is putting both his own life and the lives of others at risk.

Vess’ blunt words may have been over the line in what is considered his role as judge, but he was doing what he felt in his heart was best for the young man, his mother and our community.

He should not be faulted for that.