Former Columbus Municipal Judge Nicole Clinkscales was formally reprimanded Tuesday morning for multiple judicial conduct violations.
Mississippi 16th District Judge Lee Howard issued the reprimand before the Lowndes County Circuit Court term began with jury selection.
Clinkscales sat on the bench from 2010 until 2015, when she resigned to run as a write-in candidate for the District 41 seat in the Mississippi House of Representatives. During that time, she also served as a drug court judge until February 2015.
The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance filed a formal complaint against Clinkscales in June 2014 in four areas — inappropriate social media postings, poor conduct in her role as a drug court judge, false or misleading statements about a misdemeanor charge against her in a newspaper interview, and inappropriate courtroom conduct.
In August 2015, the commission recommended her punishment be a public reprimand and $563 in court costs. The Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the decision in June and ordered the reprimand for the beginning of this circuit court term.
During the reprimand, Howard read the high court’s findings on Clinkscales’ case.
The court found Clinkscales acted inappropriately when she made a statement of support for Mississippi District 16 Sen. Angela Turner on social media.
It also found she acted inappropriately as a drug court judge when she ordered people who had not volunteered into the drug court program. Some remained in the program longer than the law allowed. Clinkscales also illegally ordered her nephew into the drug court program.
The court’s ruling cited Clinkscales acted inappropriately when, in 2011, she gave a misleading statement to a Dispatch reporter about a charge against her for failing to obey a police officer.
“Clinkscales told the interviewer that she had not broken any laws and that she expected to be cleared of any charges,” Chief Justice William Waller wrote in the decision. “After giving the interview, she entered a plea of no contest to the charge of disobeying a police officer.”
Clinkscales also admitted to allegations she “routinely started court late and acted in a manner which could be construed as discourteous and exhibiting poor courtroom behavior,” according to the Supreme Court decision.
The Dispatch could not reach Clinkscales for comment on Tuesday.
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.