Three attorneys filebefore deadline to be appointed prosecutor

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 15, 2002

McNamara, Southerland, Arledge want Price’s spot

[12/14/02]Three Warren County attorneys offered their names by Friday’s deadline to be considered for what could be a one-year appointment as Warren County prosecutor.

Supervisors set the deadline and are expected to make a decision before Christmas.

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Pat McNamara Jr., 47, on Friday joined Marcie Tanner Southerland, 49, and Robert Arledge, 45, both of whom had announced in the past three weeks that they want to take the position being vacated by Johnny Price, who has held the part-time post for 13 years.

Price, 56, beat four other attorneys, including Arledge and four-term incumbent Gerald Hosemann, to be the next Warren County and Youth Court judge. Price will take the bench spot in January.

The position pays $37,343 a year.

Price’s term as prosecutor is set to expire on the last day of 2003, and the interim prosecutor would be appointed to serve until then. To serve longer, the appointee would have to be tapped for a four-year term by voters on November’s general election ballot for state offices.

Arledge, who lost the judicial election in the No. 2 spot behind Price, said he would serve in the position full-time.

District 5 Supervisor Richard George, board president, said the most-qualified candidate will be the interim prosecutor.

“We need someone to be on alert and have capabilities from the start,” he said.

The applicants and the qualifications they listed are:

McNamara was a uniformed patrol officer for the Vicksburg Police Department for six years and is serving as deputy city prosecutor in Jackson.

Arledge served as city attorney/prosecutor for the city of Killan, La., and he has been a practicing lawyer for 12 years.

Southerland served three years as Northern District Justice Court judge and has been in private practice since 1996.

District 4 Supervisor Bill Lauderdale said the board will interview the applicants Monday afternoon and then make a decision.

“We want to have someone in place to assume the position by Jan. 1,” he said. “I hope we can make the decision by Dec. 23.”

Arledge sued for 20 years of unpaid child support

Staff writer

The applicant for Warren County prosecutor who was also a candidate for Warren County judge is now being sued for unpaid child support for a 20-year-old daughter, the daughter’s mother claims in court documents.

Robert C. Arledge, 45, is one of three applicants for an interim appointment by the Warren County Board of Supervisors to the job of county prosecuting attorney. The other two candidates who applied by Friday’s deadline were Pat McNamara, 47, and Marcie Tanner Southerland, 49.

Arledge, who lost a November runoff bid to become the judge of Warren County Court, was ordered in his 1982 divorce decree to make twice-monthly payments of $100 to Cynthia Ann Arledge Beasnett, records show.

Though financially able, he made none of those payments, her Warren County Chancery Court petition shows, so he now owes back payments for all 410 payments he has missed since the Nov. 5, 1982, divorce decree, which was signed by the late Nat W. Bullard, who was chancellor at the time. The sum that represents, $46,100 plus interest, could amount to $70,000 or more altogether.

In 1984, court records show Arledge gave up parental rights to the child. That fact, however, did not change his obligation to continue paying the child support, said Frank J. Campbell, the attorney for Beasnett and the child.

“There is no such thing as a free pass for a natural parent,” Campbell said. “The natural father always has a responsibility to pay child support.”

Arledge, whose marriage to Beasnett lasted just more than a year, has said his giving up rights to the child for whom the money is claimed was to clear the way for the adoption of the child by her stepfather.

Campbell said no such adoption has occurred.

On Friday Arledge said he thought the 1984 agreement ended both his rights and his obligations as a parent of the child.

“I wonder why they waited 20 years to file for child support,” he said. “This is nothing more than an attempt to perpetrate extortion.”

The 1984 order, also signed by Bullard and Cynthia Arledge’s attorney, said that one reason the termination of Arledge’s parental rights would not detrimentally affect the child is that Cynthia Arledge had a sufficient income to support the child, who was then 2 years, eight-months old. It also noted that Arledge was ordered to pay the $200 a month child support and said he had not done so since the divorce was made final.

Arledge was one of four challengers to Warren County Court Judge Gerald Hosemann, 50, in the Nov. 5 general election. As the recipient of the second-highest number of votes cast, he made a runoff with eventual winner and current county prosecutor Johnny Price, 56.

Price is scheduled to take office as judge in January. That transition created an opening at the elected county prosecuting attorney’s post, which Price has held for 13 years. The part-time job of prosecuting attorney, for which the next election is scheduled for November 2003, pays $37,343.

The transition at the Warren County Court judgeship is the first since 1986, the year Hosemann became judge. He was elected without opposition for each subsequent four-year term until this year.

His most recent term was interrupted by a three-month interim suspension by the state Supreme Court. He faced a Hinds County felony assault indictment that was dismissed after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor disturbing the peace.