Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Senior Judge Green, and some predictions

Last month, I wrote that I was mulling over the changes I thought Judge Green would make when she becomes Senior Circuit Judge in Hinds County. The Hinds Senior Circuit Judge, as I mentioned, has some rather interesting and unique powers. For example, she can split the circuit into two divisions of two judges each, one handling exclusively criminal cases and the other handling only civil. She also has appointment power over the Hinds County Public Defender. I've had some time to think on it, and to read some tea leaves. Here's what I think will (and won't) happen:

1. As for splitting the circuit into two divisions, that's not going to happen. Judge Green, contrary to what some might believe, enjoys trying criminal cases. She's tried 3 in the past month or so, which is a fairly high number for Hinds.

2. Bill LaBarre will remain the public defender. A lot of speculation surfaced shortly after the election that Judge Green would make a change upon taking the bench. That speculation was uninformed, as Bill LaBarre's term coincides with Robert Shuler Smith's, not Judge Yerger's. (Yerger appointed him to replace Tom Fortner back in 2006.) There's still another year in LaBarre's term. It's possible that later this year, LaBarre could have some competition for his job. But that's a year off, so we'll see.

3. Judge Green will move to the big courtroom and into Judge Yerger's office. The audio equipment, I'm almost positive, is coming with her. (That's some excellent news.)

4. Drug Court may see an overhaul. The enrollment numbers have dropped precipitously, and I've heard that funding may have recently been cut as a result. Judge Green is known to care quite a bit about the future of the criminal defendants and actually attempting to rehabilitate them rather than simply punishing them. The falling numbers in Drug Court are sure to get some attention from Judge Green.

5. What will become of the Jackson Enforcement Team (JET) Grant judge positions? Judge Green was opposed to the creation of the two special judge slots and the JET docket altogether. The current JET grant program runs out of money in October of 2011. Don't expect to see it extended.

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