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Starrett will be fine addition to overloaded federal court

Circuit Court Judge Keith Starrett has made quite a name forhimself in southwest Mississippi and throughout the state with hispioneering efforts in establishing the state’s drug court.

Now Starrett will have a chance to exert his influence in thebacklogged federal judicial system, following his recent unanimousSenate confirmation to the U.S. Southern District Court forMississippi.

President Bush nominated Starrett to replace Judge CharlesPickering, who was elevated earlier this year to the U.S. FifthCircuit Court of Appeals. Bush must have seen what residents ofLincoln, Pike and Walthall counties have known for years – thatStarrett is a jurist committed to fairness and committed to thelaws of our nation.

Starrett implemented the state’s first felony drug court programhere in southwest Mississippi in 1999 on a lean budget. Now, 11such courts operate in the state, and five more are in the works.These courts offer a treatment-based approach for non-violent drugoffenders. And just this year, the state Legislature passed a billadding a $10 assessment to fund drug court operations to fines forfelony crimes and some misdemeanors and an $8 assessment to othermisdemeanors.

In crafting and implementing such a program, Starrett displayedwisdom and foresight that will serve him well on the federal bench,which, in turn, will serve the common good of our nation and itspeople.

We extend to Starrett our deep gratitude for his achievements insouthwest Mississippi and our sincere congratulations on his newrole in the federal judicial system.