Attorney Varner named community court judgeProperty maintenance cases heard

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 17, 2002

North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young, left, swears in Mack Varner, center, as community court judge while Varner’s wife Penny Varner, right, holds a Bible at City Hall Annex Monday. (The Vicksburg Post/C. Todd Sherman)

[09/17/02]Vicksburg attorney J. Mack Varner was appointed Monday as judge of the new city court that will hear cases against residents who don’t maintain their properties.

In April, the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to create the new “community court” to resolve code violations ranging from zoning matters to building requirements. The court, which will have the power to fine people, starts hearing cases Oct. 1.

“I know that this court will have a positive impact on our city and I look forward to serving the citizens of Vicksburg to improve our community,” Varner said after the swearing-in ceremony at City Hall Annex.

Varner, a Vicksburg native and senior partner in the law firm Varner, Parker & Sessums, has practiced law locally since 1970. He is a past-president of the Warren County Bar Association and serves as the attorney for the Warren County Port Commission.

He is a principal organizer of the Run Thru History and has also served on the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors, Keep Vicksburg-Warren Beautiful board of directors and was an active member in the Friends of the Old Bridge, a group that campaigned to prevent the sale of the U.S. 80 Mississippi River bridge to Kansas City Southern Railway.

Varner will be deciding cases where the city’s inspection department determines residents have failed to maintain their properties such as not cutting grass, litter or dilapidated buildings. Fines can be up to $1,000.

Today, such cases can be sent to Vicksburg’s two-judge court at the Vicksburg Police Department. But that court was termed too busy with criminal charges. Cases can also be taken before the city board.

During the summer months, the board has been issuing cleanup orders on about 30 properties per month. Starting next month, those cases could be handled by the community court, which will have the power to assess costs against deeds to the property.