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Court candidates answer questions about legal woes

The Lincoln County Post 1 Justice Court Judge race is generatingsome controversy with both candidates coming under scrutiny overindividual legal issues.

Incumbent Judge Judy Case Martin was the focus of a recenthearing before the state Judicial Performance Commission (JPC),while Republican challenger Ricky Thibodeaux is on non-adjudicatedprobation after pleading guilty in 2002 to making a bomb threat inCopiah County. There have been no reports, however, of Martin beingsanctioned by the commission, and Thibodeaux’s situation does notpreclude him from running for office.

Parties involved in the Martin matter cited confidentiality ofJPC proceedings in not commenting.

“I can’t confirm or deny we had a hearing,” said Brant Brantley,JPC executive director.

Brady Kellems, Martin’s attorney, acknowledged that herepresented her at a hearing several weeks ago. He said he couldnot discuss the nature of the charges investigated or the outcomeof the hearing.

“She’s still in office … that ought to speak for itself,”Kellems said of Martin.

Martin also offered little comment on the situation. She saidthose involved in the hearing signed confidentiality oaths and shecould not discuss what the charges involved.

“Everything’s fine,” the judge said.

Copiah County Circuit Court records show Thibodeaux pleadingguilty to False Report of Placing Explosives in April 2002. Thecharge was related to a December 2001 false bomb threat involving aGallman lighting plant.

In the case, Judge Lamar Pickard withheld acceptance ofThibodeaux’s guilty plea under a special state law and placed himon three years of non-adjudicated probation.

A non-adjudication sentencing order is not a conviction andtherefore does not make a candidate ineligible to seek electedoffice, said a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office.Non-adjudication means a person’s criminal record can be clearedprovided they abide by the terms of their probation during thedesignated period.

Lincoln County Republican Executive Committee Chairman ChuckNelms said the committee only checks Lincoln County records whencertifying candidates and was not aware of the Thibodeaux’s recorduntil recently.

When contacted, Thibodeaux refused to answer questions about thebomb threat indictment. He questioned why he was being investigatedand alluded to charges against Martin.

“I’m not going to say anything bad about the woman,” Thibodeauxsaid. “I’m not going to throw any mud, and I don’t want any mudthrown at me.”