Columbus Municipal Judge Nicole Clinkscales has resigned her position from the bench to run for a position in the state Legislature.
Clinkscales confirmed the move to The Dispatch in an email this morning.
“I have committed myself to being available as a write-in candidate for the District 41 seat,” Clinkscales said. “After further examination and insight from the appropriate legal authorities, it was determined that in order to allow myself to serve in this capacity I would have to resign my position as a member of the judiciary. I have done so.”
The city council appointed her to the post five years ago.
On Monday, on the steps of the Lowndes County Courthouse, Clinkscales launched a write-in campaign for the Democratic nomination for District 41 representative.
Darlene Ballard, executive director of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance, told The Dispatch on Wednesday that the moment Clinkscales appealed for votes, she effectively gave up her current role as a city judge.
“The judicial canons require she resign a judicial office before pursuing another office in a different branch of government,” Ballard said.
A sitting judge openly running for political office calls into question their ability to be unbiased when dealing cases before their court, according to Ballard.
Clinkscales had previously supported longtime District 41 representative Esther Harrison, who died earlier this month. Now, she will face Ward 5 city councilman Kabir Karriem, who is officially on the ballot, and Tiffany Sturdivant, a nurse and local political activist also running as a write-in candidate.
Clinkscales was slated to hear cases in Municipal Court next week.
The city council will have to vote in a replacement.
Mayor Robert Smith, who along with members of the city council is attending a conference in Biloxi this week, could not be reached for comment.
Ward 6 councilman Bill Gavin told The Dispatch this morning that he believes the mayor will call a special meeting to appoint a replacement.