Circuit Court Judge Race

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 12, 2010

Batesville attorney enters judge’s race

By David Howell

At least one contested race to fill a judge’s position signals that political activity in North Mississippi could be intense this year.

The announcement that longtime Circuit Court Judge Andrew Baker would retire at the end of this term opened up a seat that has been unchanged since 1978. Baker has served as Circuit Judge in the 17th Circuit Court District,  composed of Tate, DeSoto, Panola, Tallahatchie and Yalobusha counties, for over three decades. He was appointed by then-Mississippi Governor Cliff Finch and has been re-elected without opposition ever since.

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With almost two months remaining until the qualifying deadline, Batesville attorney Adam Pittman and Charleston attorney William Sanders have qualified to run in Baker’s seat, technically called Subdistrict 2, Position 1. Voters in four of the five counties in the court district – Tate, Panola, Tallahatchie and Yalobusha – are eligible to vote for this position.

A second judge serving in the 17th Circuit Court District has announced he will seek re-election.

Judge Jimmy McClure, who was elected in a special election in 2008 to serve in Subdistrict 2, Position 2, turned in qualifying papers with the Secretary of State’s office Friday.

This position also serves Tate, Panola, Tallahatchie and Yalobusha counties. McClure was appointed in 2007 after Judge Ann Lamar, who was serving as Circuit Judge, was appointed to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

McClure’s appointment placed him on the bench until a special election was held in 2008. In a heated two-way race, McClure polled 57 percent of the vote, defeating Smith Murphey.

A fourth judge’s position in the 17th Circuit Court District, Position 4, could be on the ballot for the first time after the Mississippi Legislature authorized the new position.

Hernando attorney Stan Little has qualified for this position in which voters from all five counties in the district are eligible to vote.

Funding for Position 4 has not been finalized, and it is possible that opening this new seat could be delayed.

All candidates have until May 7 to qualify to run in these positions.

Chancery Judge

Both incumbent Chancery Judges Mitchell M. Lundy and Vicki B. Cobb have qualified to seek re-election.

Lundy and Cobb serve in the Third Judicial Chancery Court District, which includes the counties of Montgomery, Grenada, Yalobusha, Panola, Tate and DeSoto.  

The qualifying deadline in these races is also May 7.