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Hinds Co. supervisors approve $265,000 for two special judges

Hinds County supervisors have approved more than $265,000 to support two special judges hired to expedite criminal cases.

The money does not include a $350,000 request from District Attorney Faye Peterson to add four assistant district attorneys and two investigators. Peterson has withdrawn that request for the moment.

Board President Doug Anderson said the county would foot the bill for costs to support the two special circuit judges appointed in May by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

The money will come from the general fund. Though one special judge, William F. Coleman Jr., resigned last week, special Judge L. Breland Hilburn will begin hearing cases on Monday.

“I didn’t want to come in asking for a whole lot of money, but we could use the staff,” said Public Defender William LaBarre, who asked for a 25 percent pay raise across the board and two new permanent attorneys.

After a lengthy debate, supervisors voted 4-1 to approve the new personnel and a 16 percent raise across the board for attorneys on staff.

Peterson said she would not need the four new attorneys and two investigators she originally asked for. A compromise would allow Hilburn to hear criminal cases during the time the four circuit judges are occupied with civil lawsuits.

Supervisors also approved hiring staff for Hilburn, including two bailiffs at more than $31,000, two court reporters at almost $46,000 and one court administrator for about $22,000.