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.”0