Judge Election

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 14, 2009

Election for next judge falls to 2010

By Billy Davis

A special election to fill a justice court seat will be held on Election Day in November 2010, attorney Bill McKenzie told county supervisors Monday.

McKenzie, who serves as board attorney, had researched Mississippi law following the August 5 death of James Appleton, the long-serving judge from Sardis.

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Appleton’s death failed to fall within a 90-day window that would have set the special election for Election Day this November.

Election Day falls on the second Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Panola County already has one election set for November 9 – a District 2 contest to finish the four-year term of late supervisor Robert Avant.

Avant’s wife, Vernice, has been appointed to that seat and is seeking re-election. She has since drawn several opponents who are also seeking the seat.

Supervisors are expected to name an appointment to Appleton’s seat on September 7 at their First District meeting in Sardis.

McKenzie named two requirements to serve as justice court judge: the person must reside in Panola County and have at least a high school diploma or GED.

“These are not the same requirements as supervisor,” said McKenzie, referring to the residency requirement.

Appleton served as one of two justice court judges because Panola County operates with two county seats, in Sardis and in Batesville, and hence has two judicial districts.

Appleton was serving his 10th consecutive term as judge at the time of his death, making him the longest-serving justice court judge in the state.

Supervisors also voted Monday to formally notify the county election commission of the vacancy, setting up the special election.