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Local Judge's Ethics Questioned

Recent actions by Muncipal Court Judge Marc Amos have some local attorney’s questioning the judge’s ethics.

According to sources, Judge Amos, who is also a partner is Nichols, Crowell, Gillis, Cooper & Amos law firm, went to Heritage High School in February to serve a teenage boy with a court summons.

The young boy is reportedly the son of a prominent local family and had been arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence. Amos confirmed that he had indeed gone to the school to serve the summons and admits that while he did pull the student out of class, he “did not lecture” the teen.

According to Amos, “It did happen. The reason why, the young man had just been in my court a few months prior and had promised to do better. And then this thing came up and I just delivered the summons, I did not talk to the young man about any of it. I delivered it because I wanted him to know I knew about the DUI.”

Amos said the teen was pulled out of class by the headmaster and he and the teen spoke briefly. Judge Amos said, “I gave him the summons, told him his court date and to get an attorney. There was nothing done in public, no remonstration.”
The case then appeared before Amos in February with the boy pleading “guilty.” Since the teen is a minor, his sentence was not made available to the media. However, the boy’s attorney Rod Ray said he considered the sentence “fair” and an “appropriate outcome.”

According to Amos, he views young men and women that appears before him as “his students” and says he often will “retire a charge” if the students bring in their report cards and show that they have maintained “a ‘C’ or above.” He said he views that option as a chance to say “Great job” and “I’m proud of you” and give a “pat on the back.” Of the unusual antics, Amos said, “I would rather have good grades than I would $250 for a speeding ticket.”

While Judge Amos would not devulge the sentence of the young man, he did say that the teen has appeared in his courtroom since to show his report cards and has kept good grades.

The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance would not comment on the matter since a formal complaint has not been filed. However, numerous attorneys across the area, who wish to remain anonymous because of their potential future dealings with the judge, question if Amos failed to uphold his ethical duties as both an attorney and a judge. According to those attorneys, a judge serving a summons is practically unheard of, especially if the person being served is set to appear in that judge’s courtroom.

Amos however, doesn’t see it that way. “I don’t feel like I did anything wrong from any sort of judicial cannons. I did it just to help the young man out from the standpoint of ‘We’ve got to get this straightened out.’ In hindsight would I do it again? Probably not. Not because I feel like I’ve done anything wrong but because it has obviously raised an issue.”

While he defended his actions, Amos was quick to clear up the appearence of inpropriety and said, “I was very adament to both Rod and the young man’s father that I would have no problem not hearing the case. Very willing. If they had any sense of discomfort, lack of fairness, any issue at all about me hearing the case, I was absolutely willing for Judge Clinkscales to hear it. I didn’t want there to be a question about my fairness. I worry a lot about being fair to everybody. Whether you’re poor, rich, black or white, it’s something I really worry about.”

Amos said this is the first time he has delivered a summons. He added, “Is it unusual? Yes. But it was a judgement call on my part.”

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11 comments

  1. Todd

    What’s unethical about delivering a summons? If those attorneys really had issues then they wouldn’t be anonymous.

  2. Clark

    Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety. A judge must expect to be the subject of constant public scrutiny. A judge must therefore accept restrictions on the judge’s conduct that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen and should do so freely and willingly.

    • Bev

      If you want to see and hear real improper judical matters just look into the dealings of the municipal Judge in West Point and his background. It is colorful and includes being the attorney for a local strip club to say the least.

  3. Old Lawyer

    It was highly improper because it was an ex parte contact with a party with no notice to the other side. And its a no brainer for any lawyer with a license. He deserves admonishment from the Judical Commission. I’ve also heard that Judge Amos has, or at least had when he started, almost no knowledge of criminal law and procedure and basic constitutional rights; maybe his OJT has solved some of that.

  4. ?

    Maybe the real issue is that a HS student has had multiple run ins with the law with at least one caused by drinking and driving ? This “age of entitlement” needs to stop. Teenagers these days are getting away with murder. I’m sick of it. So a judge goes to a school to hand out a summons, boo ***** hoo. Parents, be more responsible for your kids so they do not have to receive a court summons at all! Common sense!

  5. OldLawyer

    Police officers make arrests and serve arrest papers. Prosecutors evaluate the case and decide what criminal charges are proper and present and argue the evidence; defense attorneys advise defendants on the law, possible defenses, plea bargains and whether a trial is a good idea.

    Judges preside over court proceedings. Period. They are forbidden by clear rules to perform any other function.

    Yes, teenagers need to be punished when appropriate, but what message does it send when a Judge flaunts the rules? ?, you sir are mentally challenged.

    • SEXC

      I totally agree with you Old Lawyer,I feel that Judge Amos over stepped his bounds and it seem more like “a favor” more than a “judge” being concerned about a child and his grades. I read the response from Marc Amos and to me it seem more that he was trying to double talk and cover up what he know was inappropriate behavior. I am neither a rocket scientist nor an attorney, however, what would be the point of the judge delivering a summons to “let defendant know he is aware of a dui” when said defendant would obviously know once he received the summons from anyone or when he appeared in court. I would also like to know what happen to the law that said something to the fact that a parent or guardian had to be present when a minor is questioned. (or not talked to be a judge delivering a summons)

  6. JohnnyPhillipMorris

    but what message does it send when a Judge flaunts the rules? ?, ~OLDLawyer

    So, what message was Judge Lee Howard sending law abiding citizen Byron Weeks when the judge walked(sic)into Byron Week’s place of business down in Bigbee Valley in Noxubee County and threatened to “take his gun away?”

    It was shortly after that incident when Mr. Weeks’ Native American Totempole replica, which stood outside his business, was stolen at night from his premises with the aid of a boom truck–the boom truck had been seen earlier by witness to have backed up to the Totempole. The boomtruck was owned by a contractor doing Right-of-Way clearing for Four County Electric. It was NOT the current contractor Asplundhi.

    The heart-of-cedar Totempole weighed over six-hundred pounds, stood approximately six-feet in heigth and was mounted at least six-feet above ground, surrounded by a barbed wire enclosure.

    After that incident, Mr. Weeks was charged by Noxubee County deputy Eichelberger with receiving stolen property, claiming to have serial number evidence that he bought a gas-radiant heater and air-conditioner from blacks who had burglarized a black church that later burned.

  7. JohnnyPhillipMorris

    Richard Burdine, Weeks’ defense attorney, knows much about the “behind the scenes” machinations of the stolen property charges brought against Byron Weeks. That is why he recommended that his client plead guilty, knowing that a Noxubee County jury of blacks would find him guilty in spite of the lack of evidence. “Doing the right thing” trumps presumption of innocence and the lack of incriminating evidence in Mississippi courts.

    And that “sawed-off” shotgun allegedly in possession of the convicted felon Byron Weeks. Where is it now? Was it produced to Judge Howard as proof for revoking Weeks’ parole, sending him to Parchman and then Rankin County to serve 85% of his five-year sentence.

    Too bad we can’t give judges and lawyers lie-detector tests.

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