Court candidate’s certification rejected

Published 5:00 am Thursday, March 22, 2007

A candidate for Justice Court judge was not certified by theLincoln County Democrat Party Executive Committee Monday, anelection official said.

“All of our candidates were certified, except one who did notmeet the qualifications for the office,” said Helen Funk, thecommittee’s chairwoman.

Charles Thomas, 57, filed papers with the party to campaign forthe Post 2 judgeship, but was denied certification during acommittee meeting Monday night.

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Qualifications to become a Justice Court judge require thecandidate be a high school graduate or its equivalent and tocomplete a course of training required by law within six months ofthe beginning of the term of office.

However, Thomas was not certified because of a past criminalrecord.

The committee’s background investigation of candidates foundThomas had been convicted of grand larceny in 1983, Funk said. Aconvicted felon is barred from public office.

“I felt like I had paid my dues for that,” Thomas said in atelephone interview this morning.

Thomas denied committing the crime and cited family concerns inhis decision to plead guilty. He served one year in the custody ofthe Mississippi Department of Corrections with one yearsuspended.

He said he understood the sentence would be erased from hisrecord in time.

“Evidently it wasn’t,” Thomas said. “I thought my record wascleared about three years ago.”

He said he is in talks with the attorney general’s office toallow him to run for the office and would appeal the committee’sdecision if it gets resolved in time.

Thomas was one of eight Democrats competing for a spot on thePost 2 bench.

Justice Court judge Post 2 candidates still campaigning for theoffice include Democrats Ricky Beavers, Carl Brown, Mary Ann (Gray)Collins, Andrew Graham, Chris King, Pat H. McCullough and AnnReeves.

Freddie Canon, a Republican, has also qualified for the officethat will be vacated by incumbent Judge Judy Case Martin, who isnot seeking re-election.