Osborne resigns judgeship

Published 5:32 pm Thursday, May 29, 2008

Leflore County Justice Court Judge Solomon Osborne, who is serving a suspension for misconduct, has resigned, effective Friday.

County supervisors accepted the resignation Tuesday. Osborne did not attend the meeting.

Osborne, 60, had been suspended without pay since April 10.

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The suspension was ordered by the Mississippi Supreme Court over Osborne’s conduct during an attempted repossession in 2002 of a vehicle owned by the judge’s family members.

The Supreme Court has not yet ruled on a recommendation from the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance that Osborne be barred from ever seeking judicial office again. The commission cited a racially charged speech Osborne delivered to the Greenwood Voters League in 2006.

Brant Brantley, the commission’s executive director, said he expected the pending disciplinary matter would move forward even though Osborne has stepped down.

“There have been a number of cases decided by the court sanctioning judges after they have left office,” he said.

Under state law, Gov. Haley Barbour would appoint a replacement for the $96,645-a-year judicial post until an election is held.

The next regularly scheduled election for county judge is 2010.

Kevin A. Adams has been serving as the interim judge since Osborne’s suspension took effect.

Osborne was appointed to the bench in 2001 by then-Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. Osborne’s seven-year tenure was marked by repeated controversy.

He was suspended with pay for 17 months, starting in January 2003, while the Commission on Judicial Performance investigated a complaint that Osborne had illegally continued his private law practice after becoming a judge. In that case, the Supreme Court ordered a public reprimand.

Last year, a federal civil jury ordered Osborne to pay former repossession agent Chris Reed $80,000 in damages for the 2002 altercation that ensued on a city street when Reed attempted to repossess a Mercedes belonging to the judge’s wife and mother-in-law.

Osborne won election to a full term in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006.