TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – Lee County’s court system will soon be expanded to include two judges. The decision to approve a second judge’s position was made by the board of supervisors during their regular meeting.
Judge Charlie Brett is preparing for another busy week. There are more than 80 cases on the youth court docket, and that doesn’t include things that can’t be scheduled.
“We get phone calls, people come in with problems, looking for help, phone calls from schools with emergency situations,” Judge Brett said.
As County Judge, Brett not only handles youth court cases, but proceedings including civil cases, criminal appeals from justice and municipal courts , eminent domain and other cases. The heavy workload prompted supervisors to approve, by a 4 to one vote, a second county judge.
Board President Michael Smith said he voted against the additional position because of the cost. It is estimated it will take 160 thousand dollars to fund the new position, with no tax increase.
“Once we get caught up we may not have a need for a second judge and I wanted to not be spending that additional money that will require it forever and always, we don’t need to spend anything we don’t need to,” Smith said.
Since his re-election more than four years ago, the case load in Judge Brett’s court has more than doubled. He says with unfunded mandates and continued population growth, he doesn’t believe that will slow down anytime soon.
“The workload has consistently gone up every year I’ve been on the bench and it’s going to continue to go up, the backlog is not the problem, backlog is new cases get filed everyday,” Judge Brett said.
Brett is retiring at the end of this year. That means voters will choose Judges for Post 1 and Post 2 this November.
State lawmakers passed legislation that allowed Lee County to get two judges. Starting in January, one judge will handle youth court cases, while the other is expected to handle the remaining cases.