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Lafayette County Judge Candidates: Meet Carnelia Fondren

Lafayette County residents will vote to elect the county’s first County judge on Nov. 8.

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.

This week, Hotty Toddy News will be running profiles of each candidate, along with their answers to three questions that were presented to them.

Profile information was provided by each candidate to the Lafayette County Circuit Clerk’s Office and is also listed on the Election page of the Lafayette County website.

Carnelia Fondren

Fondren has worked in the court system for over 25 years.

Carnelia Fondren

She served as managing attorney for NMRLS, as Assistant District Attorney for the Third Circuit Court system, and as a solo practitioner.

Fondren is an experienced judge who will be fair to all parties, apply the appropriate laws, and make well-reasoned decisions. She has presided over 1,200 arrest and/or search warrants and is an experienced trial attorney with wide-ranging knowledge of the law.

Fondren has a calm demeanor and extensive knowledge and understands how to balance what is in the best interest of society, the community, victims of crimes and alleged defendants.

Fondren was born and reared in Oxford and attended/graduated from the Oxford Separate School District. While in law school at the University of Mississippi, she was a member of the Moot Court Honor Society and served as trial competition chairperson.

Carnelia has always been an active volunteer in our community. She is a former Board member of the American Red Cross, North Mississippi Rural Legal Services, undergraduate chapter advisor of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority,, Incorporated for 20 years and Church Sunday School Teacher and Youth Leader.

Carnelia has been married to Wade Fondren, Sr., for over 40 years. They are the parents of three children and the proud grandparents of four.

1. Why are you running for County Court Judge?

I am a lifelong resident of Lafayette County who has a genuine love and concern for our community and its citizens. This judgeship will deal extensively with youthful offenders. I am deeply passionate about the next generation. As a former prosecutor, I worked collaboratively with Child Protective Services (formally DHS and now known as CPS) and was instrumental in establishing the sexual assault protocol for interviewing child sexual victims. I represented parents and grandparents in the protection of their rights. Based on my experience, I am ready to make a difference for our county through the judicial system.

2. What makes you the best candidate?

I am the only candidate with judicial experience and over 25 years of legal practice. I have served as lead attorney for over 2000 cases in Civil, Circuit, and Chancery Courts. I am a youth leader, board member of the Family Crisis Services of Northwest Mississippi and the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project. I have served as managing attorney of a staff of five legal employees.  As a Municipal Court Judge, I have presided over 1000 cases. I have made tough decisions impacting bond, preliminary hearings, search warrants and balancing the best interest of youthful offenders and the community. I will be ready on “Day One” to serve as your first Lafayette County Court Judge.

3 With this being a new court for the county, what do you hope to accomplish with this position if elected?

With this newly created position, my initial plan will be to evaluate the current youth court for areas of strength and needs for improvement. I plan to work closely with local law enforcement, community public services agencies, parents and members of the legal community.  My goal is to partner with the school systems for early intervention to address the challenges that our youths now experiencing. Community involvement brings about a better tomorrow. I hope to be of assistance to the Circuit and Chancery Courts in limiting the overcrowding of the current dockets.  I will strive to establish the Lafayette County Court as a Court of integrity and fairness. With your consideration and vote, I know these goals are attainable.

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