The biggest issue in the race for District 3 Justice Court Judge may be that there are no issues.
The candidates don”t have anything against one another, and all have faced off before. Each simply believes he can do a better job than the others.
Justice Court judges are paid approximately $40,000 each year to rule on civil and criminal cases. The civil cases are limited to complaints involving $3,500 or less and the majority of the criminal cases are misdemeanors. However, Justice Court judges do sometimes set bonds or handle preliminary hearings in felony cases to see if the accused will be bound over to a grand jury.
The judges also have the power to preside over legal ceremonies such as weddings.
Buddy Johnston, 59, is a small business owner and former loan officer who believes he knows his way around a financial claim.
“In my 35 years in the finance business, I had to deal with the Justice Court system. I always enjoyed going up there and watching what went on,” he said. “Because of my experience, owning my own business, collecting accounts, that”s mainly what Justice Court system does, collect small accounts.
“There are no issues in this race. I don”t have nothing against nobody,” said Johnston. “But the incumbent is pretty close to 80 and, in my opinion, he”s been there long enough and we need to see some new blood.”
Johnston is a Starkville High School graduate and a lifelong Starkville resident. He”s music minister at his church and a mason.
“I don”t have any experience,” he admits. “But the ones that”s got it now didn”t have any when they got (the job).”
Johnston is a Republican.
Randall McClelland, 50, has worked at Mississippi State University for more than 20 years and currently serves in building maintenance. He and his family also own Brooklyn Hall Personal Care Home in Mathiston.
The Sturgis native and Starkville High School graduate is running for office purely out of desire to help his fellow man.
“I believe I can make a difference because I truly care about people,” he said. “A friend of mine was a judge for 20 years and he said you”ve got to treat people right. As judges, we don”t make the laws, but I feel I can make a difference.”
McClelland also has nothing negative to say about his opponents.
“Both other guys in the race are great guys,” he said. “I want the job because I believe I can make a difference. I don”t have any special background, but I do believe in people and doing what”s right.”
McClelland is an Independent.
Jim Mills is in his second stint as a justice court judge.
Mills served from 1972-1984 before leaving the bench for a spell. He made his return in 2008 and is finishing the first term of his second stretch.
Mills has seen and done plenty in his 44 years in Oktibbeha County. He spent 11 years with Magnavox after graduating from Carthage High School and has attended Millsaps College and Mississippi State University. He retired as transportation director for Gulf States Manufacturers and has worked for the Oktibbeha County Sheriff”s Office and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. He has 100 credited hours from the Mississippi Judicial Law Center in Oxford.
“I”ve always been very much interested in the judicial system and law enforcement. I”ve got years of experience which I think make me qualified,” said Mills. “People ought to base their opinion when voting on qualifications.”
Mills is familiar with his opponents, having faced both in the past. His method on the bench is simple and he says a fresh perspective isn”t required to apply common sense.
“A judge takes time and looks at each case very close and makes decisions based on the evidence produced in court,” said Mills.
Mills is a Democrat.
The sitting judges in District 1 and District 2 are running unopposed.
District 1 Justice Court Judge
William “Tony” Boykin
William Boykin, 68, is completing his 36th year on the bench.
The Starkville High School graduate spent two years in the Army, which deployed him to Vietnam, before attending air conditioning and refrigeration school and barber school.
Boykin operated barbershops in Maben and Starkville and also dabbles in tree farming.
During his time on the bench, the Adaton native has completed approximately 2,500 hours at the Mississippi Judicial College. He”s also a 16-year board member of the Mississippi Judicial College Board of Governors, a 20-year member and past president of the Mississippi Justice Court Judges Association and a four-year member of the Judicial Performance Committee Board, which is appointed by the chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court.
Boykin is a Democrat.
District 2 Justice Court Judge
Bernard Crump, 74, has served on the bench for 28 years.
Crump served as a United Methodist Church minister for 44 years before retiring in 2004. And prior to his judging days he spent eight years working for legal services in Coahoma County.
The Amory native has lived in Oktibbeha County since 1974 and performed his undergraduate studies at Tuskegee University. He received his master of divinity degree from Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta.
Crump is a Democrat.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.