By Alyssa Schnugg
Lafayette County will have a county judge for the first time after the Nov. 8 election.
Eight local attorneys have qualified to run for the new seat. They include Steve Jubera, James B. Justice, Cornelia Fondren, Thomas A. Waller, Josh Turner, Ray Garrett, Tiffany Kilpatrick and Christine Tatum.
Jerry Pope, with the Lafayette County Conservative Coalition, realized he didn’t know much about most of the eight candidates and knew he wasn’t the only one who needed more information about the candidates for this new judge seat.
“People need to have an interest in our judges today,” he said. “It’s very important. This is a new position and many people in the county don’t really know much about it. We need to make sure as a community we elect judges who are not only qualified but are good common sense folks.”
Pope invited all eight candidates to a County Judge Candidates Forum at 6 p.m. on Aug. 23. The forum will be held in one of the courtrooms on the second floor of the Lafayette County Chancery Building.
“All eight have indicated to me that they will be intending,” Pope said.
Each candidate will have about 15 minutes to introduce themselves, discuss their reasons for running for county judge and why they feel they are the best candidate for the job.
“If they don’t use their 15 minutes, we may have time for some questions and answers at the end,” Pope said. “Or each candidate can take questions if they choose to during their 15 minutes.”
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.
The County Judge’s race is nonpartisan.