Bradford resigns from justice court

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Justice Court Judge Richard Bradford III, facing health problems and possible disciplinary action, has resigned effective Oct. 1, ensuring another new member of Warren County’s small claims court by year’s end.

In a brief letter to supervisors Monday, Bradford focused on health concerns among reasons to cut his third term short.

“It has been a great pleasure to serve as your justice court judge and I have had many great experiences,” read part of Bradford’s letter. “Because of my health and other matters, it is at this time that I have made a decision to resign.”

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In what is becoming a familiar pattern, resumes to fill the position will be taken by supervisors after Bradford’s resignation becomes effective. Any resident of the Central District may apply. Once appointed, the successor will serve unchallenged until qualifying starts for the 2010 election cycle, which will feature congressional races in the U.S. House and Senate in November. The timing of Bradford’s resignation makes it impossible for supervisors to place the office on special election already set for six weeks from today, highlighted by races for justice court judge in the Southern District and one contested seat on the Election Commission. Qualifying for the special election ended Sept. 4.

Bradford, 66, a retired funeral home director and mortician, was first elected in 1999. He defeated two opponents to win the judgeship a third time in 2007.

In November, the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance recommended the state Supreme Court issue a public reprimand, fine and suspension of Bradford following a formal complaint in 2007 and subsequent inquiry.

Still active on the general docket for the state’s high court as of Monday, the case involved complaints that Bradford listened to one party in a dispute without the knowledge or participation of another (called ex parte communication), that he attempted to interfere in cases assigned to other local judges and that he dismissed criminal charges without proper notification to the prosecuting attorney. Eight specific cases appeared in the agreed statement of facts and proposed recommendation filed with the Supreme Court.

The commission asked for Bradford to be suspended for 30 days without pay and issued a $100 fine.

In addition to naming interim appointees to the Southern District justice court seat and the District 5 election commission seat that will be on the Nov. 3 ballot, supervisors this year also have appointed a tax collection and a District 3 election commissioner.

Warren County Tax Collector Antonia Flaggs Jones and District 3 Election Commissioner Elva Smith-Tolliver will serve out fill terms after their appointments, having attracted no ballot opposition.

Vying for the Southern District justice court judgeship are former sheriff’s deputy Jeff Crevitt, attorney and former circuit court administrator Lisa Anglin Counts and Sheffield Rentals employee Sally Sheffield McDaniel. Crevitt was appointed to the job in July following the death of his father, Joe Crevitt.

Appointed District 5 Election Commissioner Lonnie Wooley is opposed by retired engineer Gordon Cordes. The job was formerly held by Gordon “Motor” Carr.

In addition to civil claims, justice court judges preside in misdemeanor criminal cases, hold preliminary hearings and issue warrants based on law enforcement affidavits. Though elected from three districts, the judges have countywide jurisdiction. A law degree is not required for the position, but the state requires initial and continued training.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at