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Four Qualify for New Lafayette County Court Judge Race in First Three Days of Qualification Period

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor


The new County Court will be held in the Lafayette County Courthouse. File photo

The qualifying period for the 2022 election began three days ago for a handful of mostly judicial races for Lafayette County.

For the first time, Lafayette County will have a County Court after the Nov. 8 election when voters will elect the first County Court Judge. The county was approved for a County Court after the 2020 Census showed the county’s population was more than 50,000.

According to the State Mississippi Judiciary’s website, County Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over eminent domain proceedings and juvenile matters, among other things. In counties that have a County Court, a County Court judge also serves as the Youth Court judge. County Courts share jurisdiction with Circuit and Chancery Courts in some civil matters. The jurisdictional limit of County Courts is up to $200,000. County Courts may handle non-capital felony cases transferred from Circuit Court. County Court judges may issue search warrants, set bond and preside over preliminary hearings. County Courts have concurrent jurisdiction with Justice Courts in all matters, civil and criminal.

As of Thursday, local attorneys Josh Turner, Ray Garrett, Tiffany Kilpatrick and Christine Tatum have qualified to run for County Judge.

The County Court will be held inside the Lafayette County Courthouse.

Circuit Court judges qualify with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office. According to the SOS’s website, Judge Gray Tollison, who holds the Place 1 seat for the Third District Circuit Court, has qualified to run.

The Candidate Qualifying List is updated daily at 5 p.m.

Judges Kent Smith and Kelly Luther had not yet qualified as of 5 p.m. Wednesday and no one else had qualified for the Place 1 seat.

In the race for Chancery Judge in Lafayette County, both Judge Larry Little and Bob Whitwell have qualified.

U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS) has also qualified to retain his seat in Washington D.C. He will face James McCay, who qualified as an Independent. Democrat Hunter Avery has declared his intent to run as well against Kelly.

Circuit Court of Appeal Judge for District 1 Jim Greenlee has also qualified to run.

The deadline to qualify is Feb. 1. The primary will be on June 7 with the runoff on June 28. The general election is on Nov. 8.

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