Constable Mitchell arrested

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 9, 2002

[05/09/02]Warren County’s Central District constable was arrested Wednesday and charged with felony extortion before being released on $5,000 bond.

J.L. Mitchell, 49, 1520 Sky Farm Ave., one of the county’s three elected constables, is accused of demanding $250 a year to serve summonses and eviction notices for the manager of Monroe Court Apartments, 1219 Monroe St., Special Assistant Attorney General Lee Martin said.

Constables’ duties include serving court summonses and orders. They are to be paid an established fee $25 each for serving court papers, Martin said.

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“There was no authority for Mitchell to receive any payment” except the $25, Martin said. “That’s the only compensation he was entitled to by law.”

Martin said an individual filed a complaint with Attorney General Mike Moore’s office within the past few weeks, the investigation of which led to the arrest. Warren County sheriff’s deputies assisted in taking Mitchell into custody, which jail records show occurred at Monroe Court Apartments.

The office of county constable is created in Mississippi’s 1890 Constitution. Under reforms, some counties have as many as five and others have only one. Warren County’s are elected from central, north and south districts. While they have law-enforcement authority, most constables serve the papers in exchange for fees as a second income or part-time job.

Mitchell, in at least his third term, was not available.

If the case against him is prosecuted, the next step would be for it to be presented to a grand jury. In the meantime, Mitchell may continue to serve as constable, Martin said.

Extortion carries a maximum penalty of five years, a $5,000 fine and, in a public official’s case, removal from office.