Thursday, June 14, 2007
Brown’s name on ballot
By SUE WATSON
Incumbent Justice Court Judge Eugene D. Brown Jr. will be on the Democratic ticket as a candidate for judge for the Northern District of Marshall County in the August 7 primary election, according to circuit clerk Lucy Carpenter.
Brown was not certified as a candidate this year by the Marshall County Democratic executive committee, but that all changed Friday.
Earlier this year the Executive Committee refused to certify Brown’s candidacy, saying the judge did not live in the district, and therefore did not meet the residency requirements.
But a Mississippi Supreme Court ruling rendered June 7 clarified the residency requirement for Justice Court judges with the overturning of a trial judge’s decision in a similar case in Lowndes County (Monique Brooks Montgomery v. The Lowndes County Democratic Executive Committee and Leon Hines).
Carpenter said Brown’s attorneys filed a motion before Hon. V.R. Cotten, and the Lowndes County Circuit Court judge ordered that Brown’s name be put on the ballot for the August primary the day after the Supreme Court’s ruling.
According to Carpenter, Judge Brown’s case had not been heard, but in the light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Judge Cotten ordered the Marshall County Democratic Executive Committee to place the incumbent’s name on the August 7 Democratic ballot as a candidate for Justice Court judge.
The Justice Court judges’ races residency requirements have been questioned in elections across Mississippi every election year, Carpenter said.
“It’s been a topic of controversy,” she said. “There has been a lack of clarity between the Mississippi Constitution and the Mississippi Code with respect to residency requirements. The residency question comes up almost every election year.
“The Legislature says candidates for Justice Court judge have to live in the district that they run in; the Constitution says they have to be a resident of the county. The Supreme Court has said that the legislators do not have the right to put restrictions on the Constitution.”
Carpenter said no such confusion in residency requirements exists in other district office races state-wide.
Four candidates will be on the Democratic ballot for Justice Court judge for the Northern District – Winfred J. Allen, Eugene D. Brown Jr.; Clencie L. Cotton and Mae Garrison.
In other election business, Carpenter provided deadline dates for absentee voting and voter registration.
Registered voters who are physically disabled or who will not be in the county on August 7 due to military commitments or to being enrolled as a student outside the county, may request an absentee ballot by mail. Others who do not expect to be in the county on election day may vote absentee in the circuit clerk’s office. Absentee voting starts June 25 and ends August 4, Carpenter said.
The circuit clerk’s office will be open for absentee voting in person on Saturday, July 28, and Saturday August 4, from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. Voters may cast their absentee ballots in person during regular working hours or on the two Saturdays prior to the August 7 election.
To vote in the August 7 primary election, voters must be registered by July 6 at 5 p.m. For anyone registering by mail, the application to vote must be postmarked no later than 5 p.m. on July 7, Carpenter said.
Anyone who is already registered as a voter but who has moved to another address within the county should call the circuit clerk’s office to make sure they are registered in the correct precinct, Carpenter said.
If there are any races where candidates face runoff elections, those runoffs will be held Tuesday, August 28.
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