Miss. judge accused of misconduct

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Published: May 28,2010

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – A judicial watchdog has recommended that Chancery Judge Larry Buffington be publicly reprimanded for subpoenas he issued for two Simpson County supervisors in 2009.

The Commission on Judicial Performance on Thursday filed the complaint with the Mississippi Supreme Court, which oversees all judicial misconduct petitions.

The commission says it found Buffington lacked authority to command the supervisors to appear before him to answer questions about who leaked to the media his appointment of a former state justice as a Simpson County Youth Court public defender.

Buffington told The Clarion-Ledger that the reprimand was fair.

In January 2009, Buffington ordered supervisors to hire Oliver Diaz Jr. as a Youth Court public defender at $400 a month. He later called a meeting, at which time he explained why he hired Diaz.

The judge subpoenaed the two Republican members of the Board of Supervisors and ordered the three Democratic supervisors to be present. Before the meeting, he quashed the subpoenas.

Buffington said at the Feb. 11 meeting that Diaz was a friend of his but that there was no quid pro quo.

Simpson County didn’t have enough money budgeted for a public defender position in Youth Court.

Buffington previously said Diaz told him he needed one more year of employment to qualify for the state retirement system.

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