Voters picking new Justice Court judge

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Some Lawrence County voters are heading to the polls today toelect a new Justice Court judge to preside over criminal cases.

There are four candidates vying for the Justice Court Judge Post1 office: Kathleen Sharpe, Albert Turnage, Hortense MartinMcCullough and Jimmy Barton. Post 1 includes 16 of LawrenceCounty’s 26 precincts, including all of Districts Four and Five,Oma, Sontag and Wanilla.

“Voters will vote at their regular precincts,” Circuit ClerkCindy Stokes said.

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Polls will be open until 7 p.m. today

The election has drawn little interest to date, Stokes said, butshe remained hopeful voters will show more interest on ElectionDay.

“Absentee voting has been very low,” she said. “However, we hopethe people will get out and vote at the polls.”

Only a handful of absentee votes have been cast, she said.

Voters are electing a replacement for former Post 1 JusticeCourt judge Bobby Fortenberry Jr., who pleaded guilty to possessionof crystal meth with intent to transfer and stepped down from hisoffice in an agreement with prosecutors and the court in September2004.

The winner of the election will fulfill Fortenberry’s term,which expires Jan. 1, 2008.

Fortenberry, a 16-year veteran of the bench who had wonreelection to a fifth term, was sentenced by Judge Mike Smith to 20years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Correctionswith 16 years suspended. An additional charge of conspiracy totransfer a controlled substance was dismissed.

The former judge was arrested March 26, 2004, at a truck stop inBrookhaven and charged with possession and conspiracy following anundercover operation by law enforcement agents who posed as methdealers.