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City Judge Clinkscales Pleads 'No Contest' To Misdemeanor Charge

Judge Nicole Clinkscales

Her Intent Was To Fight The Charge But Plans Changed When ‘Lost’ Tape Appeared

Recently appointed Columbus City Judge Nicole Clinkscales pled ‘no contest’ to a June 09′ charge of ‘failure to obey a police officer’ this past Tuesday in Lowndes County Justice Court. The case took nearly 20 months to be heard in court mainly because it was ‘lost’ in a pile on the late Judge Curtis Austin’s desk for months and months.

Officer Lance Luckey

The charged stemmed from a June 09′ incident in which Clinkscales was reportedly “beating her son with a belt” according to a 911 complainant. The police report said that when the officer neared the scene the complainant flagged him down to tell him what was going on. (In a Monday Commercial Dispatch ‘profile’ of Clinkscales, she claimed she flagged the officer down and not the complainant). According to the report, while the complainant was talking to the officer Clinkscales “was doing a lot of screaming and hollering at the complainant”. She allegedly refused the officers command to get into her car and was then arrested for failure to obey. (In the Dispatch ‘profile’, she claimed that the officer, Lance Luckey, said “something like, ‘Shut up and get in your car’ “). Before court Tuesday, I asked Officer Luckey if he told her to “shut up” and he replied he did not! He said he simply instructed her to get back into her car.      I’ve maintained from the beginning that the real story here is how long it took to get to court and some apparent attempts by some officials to either minimize the case or possibly make it go away altogether. More than one source has told me and others involved that Mayor Robert Smith has tried to “work on” some people to get the case hushed up or thrown out all together. As far as Officer Luckey is concerned, he’s maintained silence through the whole affair. Even after another source told me that practically every case Officer Luckey has brought before Judge Clinkscales in city court since her appointment as judge, she has thrown out or found not guilty.

The case was finally heard in Lowndes Justice Court Tuesday afternoon at 1:30. Lowndes Justice Court Judge Chris Hemphill was on the bench, Tuesday, but Oktibbeha County Justice Court Judge Jim Mills was brought in for the case against Clinkscales. Oktibbeha Prosecutor Roy Carpenter Jr. was also brought along to prosecute the case. Clinkscales had stated that she felt she broke no laws and therefore it was expected that she would enter a ‘not guilty’ plea (it’s a reasonable assumption…I’ve always felt that if someone is not guilty of a crime, then you would expect them to enter a ‘not guilty’ plea..wouldn’t you?) She brought West Point attorney Nebra Porter to defend her. Longtime Columbus attorney Richard Burdine (everybody loves Richard) was also along for support. But when Clinkscales and Porter went back to a room to hear the ‘lost tape’ (police tape of the actual incident) that they believed no longer existed, this is likely when the defense strategy changed from ‘not guilty’ to ‘no contest’ (Porter later commented to Roger Larsen, after the plea was made and the hearing was over, that the ‘no contest’ plea was “best for everyone involved”).

The recording of the incident was an apparent surprise to Porter and Clinkscales. More than one source over the past few weeks had said it no longer existed and I expect Porter and Clinkscales thought so also. Someone (no one ever owned-up to it) lost the original police recording. Which was likely the reason Judge Clinkscales was claiming that Officer Luckey told her to “shut up”. Again- an assumption here- if Officer Luckey indeed told her to ‘shut up’, and that could be heard on the recording, wouldn’t that make someone want to plead ‘not guilty’? In the Dispatch profile Clinkscales also stated, “The officer said something like “Shut up and get in your car.” As I moved toward my car I told him he did not have to speak to me that way. I was not belligerent. I felt I was being treated with less dignity than anybody deserves. I am a mother trying to protect my son and protect my home. I did say “I’m a lawyer. I know my rights.” Which I shouldn’t have had to say because, as a citizen in a non-volatile situation, I didn’t think I should have been spoken to that way.” One would deduce, I would think, that the recording would back-up these claims by Judge Clinkscales if they were true. The recording, reportedly, is about five minutes long. The Packet asked and paid a $50.00 fee yesterday for a copy – first being told they could get one, then being told City Attorney Jeff Turnage stepped in and said the city could not produce the copy! (Since the case never went to trial and the recording not entered as evidence..Turnage may be right) The Packet still expects to receive a copy of the disk within the next few days.  It will be posted to the Packet website the second we obtain it.

I waited in the outer room of the courtroom as Judge Mills waited for a court clerk to announce the famous “all rise!” The judge entered the courtroom and took his place on the bench. Roger Larsen and I had to grab a couple of chairs from the outer room as the small courtroom was packed with onlookers. Attorney Richard Burdine took a chair to my left alongside his assistant (didn’t get her name, but she’s a sharp, sweet lady indeed). Porter and Judge Clinkscales sat in the two chairs traditionally used by Lowndes Prosecutor Tim Hudson and fill-in Prosecutor Roy Carpenter was actually in the accused chairs (They didn’t know this, obviously). The case was announced and Porter made it known her client was entering a plea of ‘no contest’ to which Prosecutor Carpenter asked for a fine of $100 to be handed down to Clinkscales..Judge Mills accepted and asked Clinkscales, “can you pay that today?” to which Clinkscales answered, “yes”. As soon as the ‘no contest’ plea was announced, Richard Burdine spoke, loudly, “that’s the wrong plea” (his assistant ‘shushed’ him) from the back of the room. Again, Burdine, speaking loudly over the quiet courtroom, “that’s not the right plea” to yet another, “shhhhh, Richard” from his assistant and many people looking his way from around the courtroom. (Burdine’s reaction to Judge Clinkscales plea, seeing he didn’t get to be in the room when the recording was heard by Porter and Clinkscales earlier, was another clear indication that Clinkscales intended to plead ‘not guilty’…till that recording was heard! RW).

Judge Clinkscales's license plate, ironically.

I take no pride nor pleasure in reporting these facts to our citizens. This is 2011 and it seems that ‘good-ol-boy’ politics is being recycled over generations – and apparently is not confined to one race of people. How can we ask people to be truthful, honest and forthright when many of our trusted officials, those who oversee the laws and entrusted by the people they serve, are trying to divert and distort facts, cloud issues and flat out pull the wool over the eyes of the public as if they are not expected to abide by the same rules that we are. It’s shameful!

I worry about Officer Luckey. I was impressed by this young police officer (never met him until Tuesday). Will he be targeted? Has it really come to this in Columbus, Ms.? For God’s sake…i hope and pray not!

More Candidates Sign-up: Roger Larsen Picks Up Papers To Run For Dist. 5 Supervisor

Former Packet Editor Roger Larsen has done what many was hoping he would..he picked up qualifying papers, Tuesday, for a possible run against longtime District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks. Brooks must first face challenger Kenneth McFarland in the Democratic primary on August 2nd. If he survives that race, he’ll then have to face Larsen in the November general election because Larsen will run as an independent.

This one promises to be fun! It’s, literally…a political dream-come-true race!

Lowndes County School District Assistant Superintendent Edna McGill has qualified to run for superintendent. McGill will run as a Republican and face former New Hope High Principal Lynn Wright and current New Hope Middle School Principal Sam Allison in the August 2nd Republican primary. Current West Lowndes High School Principal Cliff Reynolds is the lone Democrat in the race. Qualifying will continue through Tuesday, March 1st at 5 p.m.

Former Justice Court Judge Mike Arledge made his bid for Lowndes County sheriff official last Friday. Arledge signed-up as a Republican.

Clarification:

Last week I wrote an article about CVB Interim Director Nancy Carpenter coming before the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors seeking needed approval from the board to secure a loan for the CVB to purchase part of the new CVB building being constructed. The property had been appraised for $600,000 and the CVB intends to purchase the property for $734,000. I stated that Harry Sanders had asked Carpenter, “why are ya’ll paying $134,000 more than the appraisal” to which he also explained that the supes couldn’t legally sign-off on a deal where the loan exceeds the appraisal. I also stated that Sanders informed Carpenter that the CVB had an attorney (to which i put ‘David Dunn’ in parenthesis because he’s the CVB board attorney) who should have known better. Actually Sanders wasn’t speaking of Dunn..he was speaking of the two attorneys on the board, Dewitt Hicks and David Sanders (Harry’s brother).      Sanders was right..they should have known better. But so should have Mr. Dunn! Dunn stopped by The Packet office last week after the article ran..apparently complaining about my statement because he had only been the CVB board attorney “for a week”. To which I maintain that’s plenty of time for him to know the legal business of the CVB, and he also should have known better. I also heard he rambled on about being good friends with David Shelton…to which I have no idea what that has to do with the legal business of the CVB..or The Packet!

My suggestion to Mr. Dunn would be to please get busy with the work of the legal business of the CVB, since that is taxpayer dollars going to an extremely, important cause. Thanks, in advance, Mr. Dunn for your service to the taxpayers of Columbus and Lowndes County.  Ron Williams can be reached by email at Ronsings2you@aol.com

 

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27 comments

  1. I support her. If ppl would punish their kids like this and I was, I feel there would not be as much trouble in the kid/teen crowd these days.

  2. While you’re right about punishment, Joey..she likely would not have been arrested if she had obeyed the officer as instructed. Although the call to 911 was by a complainant disturbed by Clinkscales beating her son, she was arrested because she wouldn’t get back into her car as instructed by the officer. The beating was not taking place at this point. Clinkscales had driven to the complainant’s house and was confronting her.

    • Chico

      Exactly: Regardless of the punishment she gives her child, she seems to be just as hard headed, and should appreciate her punishment as well.

  3. @Joey it must have been pretty bad for 911 to have been called by the complainant. The troubling part to me, according to the article, is she stated she “felt she broke no laws”. It seems like a lawyer and now municipal court judge should know ‘failure to obey an officer’ is breaking the law and the now judge should be beyond reproach, at least at this point in her life. And, it also looks like the arresting officer is going to have trouble getting very many of his cases upheld in front of this judge. Then, the question becomes how would she rule on any case involving the abusive discipline of a child? I hope the packet can get the tape and does post it to their website.

    • Mary

      OFFICERS IN MS NEED TO LEARN TO RESPECT OTHERS IF THEY WANT RESPECT THEY ARE NOT ABOVE ANYONE AND HE SEEM TO ENJOY WHAT HE DID I THINK HE KNOWS HE IS NOT INNOCENCE AT ALL AND YELLING AT A COP IS NOT BREAKING THE LAW WE STILL HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH

  4. I agree with what y’all r saying. I just wanted to express that I feel kids need to be punished like I was but not abused. I feel that a lot of crime could be reduced if ppl wouldn’t cry every time someone punished a kid like in the old days. I forgot that she didn’t obey the police(she should have obeyed the officers). If she was hurting, or maiming the kid, I agree with the neighbor. But now days you just can’t always believe what ppl say. I feel she was giving out a good ole butt whooping and that’s the only reason I support her.

  5. prolly gotta be either a Public Records Request or a Freedom of Information Act request. I get those two mixed up. And the costs incidental to the request are supposed to paid up front, but the article said the $50 was already paid, I think.

  6. No doubt ya’ll know how to get it. I’ve never had a FOIA request or a PR request refused, but they sometimes will try and delay turning over sensitive stuff they don’t want you to have until the retention policy has passed. It’s kinda like give me a gun so I can shoot you with it, sometimes.

  7. I hope that the tape doesn’t have the officer saying “Shut up and get back in your car” like she claimed in PRINT in the Dispatch earlier this week. If it is proven that she lied (and I believe that she probably did), then the policeman should sue her for slandering him. She needs to be removed from the bench and disbarred.

    As far as her whipping her kid, as long as she wasn’t beating him to a pulp or there are grounds for child abuse, I have never seen a belt whipping that was criminal.

  8. if the officer was trying to get the complainant’s statement and Clinkscales’ mouth was interfereing with that, the officer may have had every right to tell her to shut and get back in the car. I’m sure that’s what he would have told me.

  9. The police report had stated that Clinkscales was hollering and screaming at the complainant while the officer was trying to speak with her. The recording was played for Clinkscales and her attorney just prior to going into the courtroom. Before that, every indication was that Clinkscales intended to plead ‘not guilty’.

  10. In the 30 years I’ve been dealing with Columbus city hall, the only three city officials who were up front with information I asked for were Jeffrey Rupp, Robert Patton and JD Sanders. Every other city official I asked for public documents, such as budgets and studies (paid for with tax money), used every conceivable excuse in the book to not be forthcoming with the information. I’ve been disappointed in this city administration, including the city attorney.
    If one watches any of the council meetings, the ones that the public is allowed to watch (is anyone not aware of the behind doors “planning meetings” we’ve been seeing?), with the votes that are mysteriously decided in an instant with no discussion (all pre-scripted and decided beforehand) and an attorney who tries to interpret the law to fit what the mayor and council want it to do, then the lack of ethics and integrity is more than obvious with this administration.
    I wish the Packet good luck with that tape, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. This council is no better than any of its predecessors. Just as dishonest, unethical and embarrassingly ignorant as any other. So much for any change voters had been hoping for. I wouldn’t trust any one of them to walk one of my pets to the corner and back.

  11. harriet tubman

    now how many years that was im sure columbus police could be doing something else with there time then this, so the white men jus change from a rope around a neck to hangcuff huh the white still cant see a Black person on top of anything but the Master!! leave that lady alone and go catch real people that is breaking the Law like the people that is making the Gas prices go up!!

    • Chico

      Cute… But eliminate “Black and White” and just look at this without color. She was wrong, and if it were you, do you think this would even make news? This is a prime example of abuse of authority which leads to corruption.

      • Star43

        I agree with you, Chico. Don’t get me wrong now, it is PLENTY of times race has and will play a part in many situations concerning law enforcement (sad to say) but this is NOT one of them. So, Harriet Tubman (come on….really??? you could’ve spent twenty more seconds to think of some name better than that-acting like you’ve marched with MLK or something….LAME) just so you’re aware, the police officer was responding to a call. That’s what they do and that’s what they are suppose to do with their time….um….duh. Chico=good call, Harriet Tubman=stop playing chicken and use your real name or someone’s that’s worthy of you idiotic statements (except about the gas prices 😉 sounding like you may be kin to her….

  12. Chico

    All this because he told her to “shut up”? Seems to me she needs to get over herself. If being told to “shut up” by the police is her beef, it in itself makes her seem petty, not to mention throwing cases out of court which are brought forward by the officer. She doesn’t deserve that seat.

  13. Mary

    she has a right to discipline her child that is what is missing in the year 2011. My thought is when the police beat kids with sticks and other equipment it is never abuse so why is it abuse when a loving parent discipline their child. I think the justice system in Ms still sucks

  14. The truth about Col

    Its not fun when the rabbit has the gun. In other words y’all all have so much to say about her because she’s black. But truth be told Columbus, Ms has and always will be full of them good ol boys. Yall have been doing it for years and nothing been send but now that a nice smart educated BLACK female has her face in it its murder in the city. For nothing is said about the DA that beats on his wife. Now I see y’all keep that hush you good ol boys. The crime is know different then y’all doing and her protecting her son from this corrupt town.

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