Court clerks shredding and hiding document as well as taking money or gifts for dubious services, inappropriate contact with judges in chambers, relationships with known high-ranking gang members, dismissed or lessened charges - all these allegations and more are contained in a report outlining an investigation conducted by the Internal Affairs Department of the Hattiesburg Police Department after complaints were lodged against the municipal Court System a number of weeks ago.
All five members of the City Council unanimously criticized the city court system for actions and laxness bordering, if not crossing the line of criminality, and Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree for not handing out much more stringent disciplinary action.
For his part - the Mayor characterized the allegations as merely the result of poor training or unprofessionalism. He terminated one clerk and suspended three without pay. In defending his handling of the matter, Mayor DuPree stated that it was his call to make and no one else's.
Citizens have to know that their court system is being run justly, fairly and with the utmost professionalism. They should be held to the highest ethical standards from top to bottom.
It makes one wonder if the clerks were taking a cue from the administration when it comes to the lack of severity in punishment. It would seem that the mayor's judgment in this instance is no better than the system that needs cleaning up.
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