Disrespectful Judge Faces Dismissal in Mississippi

     (CN) – A Mississippi judge who admitted to being disrespectful and jailing citizens without due process must be removed from the bench, the state’s highest court ruled.
     Leigh Ann Darby, who served as a drug court judge, family master and youth court referee in Tate County, Miss., admitted to throwing eight parents into jail without due process “for conduct allegedly occurring outside of court.”
     She also denied a trio of teenagers due process in 2011 after they were arrested for walking across someone’s yard. Darby ordered the teens to be drug-tested and sent them to detention for the weekend without conducting a hearing. They were eventually exonerated.
     The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance charged Darby with judicial misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
     Darby also agreed with the commission’s finding that she had frequently treated litigants and others in her court “in an abusive, belittling, impatient, unprofessional and discourteous manner.”
     The Mississippi Supreme Court had previously reprimanded Darby for sanctioning a mother for contempt without due process.
     In this case, the court agreed with the commission that Darby should be removed from the bench.
     “Although the record is silent as to any specific instances of conduct in which Judge Darby acted toward others in a manner ill-fit for a member of the judiciary, we take Judge Darby at her word that she “lacks the requisite judicial temperament to serve in any judicial capacity and lacks control over her temper, which affects her judgment, resulting in abuse of her judicial authority,” Justice Michael K. Randolph wrote on the supreme court’s behalf.
     In addition, Randolph stated that Darby should be fined $1,000 and assessed $200 in court costs.
     “Judge Darby’s actions were serious, given the deprivation of liberty in this matter. Her conduct had a negative impact on the lives of the eleven citizens she wrongfully incarcerated,” he wrote.
     In a special concurring opinion, Presiding Justice Jess H. Dickinson explained why the Mississippi Supreme Court did not adopt the commission’s recommended ban on Darby running for judicial office in the future.
     “Neither this court nor the Commission on Judicial Performance has the authority to impose a sanction that prohibits a person from seeking and holding judicial office in the future,” he stated.

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