Saturday, January 28, 2023

Lafayette County Voters Head Back to the Polls Tuesday for County Judge Runoff

Lafayette County voters will head back to the polls Tuesday for the runoff election for the county’s first County Court Judge.

Candidates Tiffany Kilpatrick and Carnelia Fondren garnered the top two most votes in the Nov. 8th General Election out of the eight candidates, forcing them into a runoff.

Fondren received the most votes, with 2,432 votes, about 20 percent, and Kilpatrick earned 2,160 votes, or close to 18 percent.

The other six candidates were Steve Jubera, James B. Justice, Thomas Waller, Josh Turner, Ray Garrett and Christine Tatum.

The county was approved for a County Court after the 2020 Census showed the county’s population was more than 50,000. The new County Court will be held inside the Lafayette County Courthouse.

Polls will be open Monday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters will place their votes in their regular precincts – where they voted on Nov. 8.

See below for a list of polling locations.

Prior to the General Election, candidates provided profile information and answered three questions sent to them from Hotty Toddy News. Here are Fondren and Kilpatrick’s responses. The names are listed in alphabetic order for fairness.

Carnelia Fondren

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

Carnelia Fondren

She has presided over 1,200 arrests and/or search warrants and is an experienced trial attorney with wide-ranging knowledge of the law.

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.

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. 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. 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.

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.

***

Tiffany Kilpatrick

Tiffany Kilpatrick

A mother and lawyer, Kilpatrick has practiced for 17 years and currently serves as the Assistant District Attorney over Abuse and Sexual Assault Cases for the Mississippi Third Circuit Court District, where she serves the entire district (Benton, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Lafayette, Marshall, Union, and Tippah Counties).

She primarily practiced criminal defense and family law in private practice. She has served as the Lafayette County Public Defender at the felony level, the Youth Court Public Defender for Lafayette County, and City Prosecutor for Abbeville as well as Adjunct Professor at her alma mater University of Mississippi School of Law.

Kilpatrick possesses a wealth of courtroom experience and a natural passion for the people she serves. She strives to ensure fairness on both sides of the aisle.

Kilpatrick has a passion for service and making a difference, which drives her commitment to the community. She serves the community and she’s committed to the community.

1. Why are running for County Judge?

I am running for county judge because I believe my experience and the passion I have for serving my community will be put to best use on the county bench. Anyone who has been in the courtroom knows I love the work. For me, it was really just a question of where I could make the most positive change.

2. What makes you the best candidate?

With my experience in both the civil and criminal arenas coupled with my service as both the Lafayette youth court public defender and Lafayette felony public defender and as the Lafayette assistant district attorney over sex and abuse cases, I’m in the unique position of being equipped to take over youth court day one, preside over felony trials, and manage the civil docket so that the parties can have their cases heard fairly and without delay. 

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

Access to justice. Both the civil and criminal dockets are woefully crowded and, as a result, leave criminal defendants and civil parties waiting over a year or more for their “day in court.” I want to give people meaningful and quick trial dates. On the youth court side, I intend on starting an intervention court similar to a drug court. 



Staff report

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