HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Nine members of the Hattiesburg Municipal Court were sworn in on Wednesday.
One by one, each took the oath of office as they were sworn in by Mayor Toby Barker on the steps of the old federal courthouse next to City Hall. Barker told the crowd of about 50 people that it wouldn't be a proper ceremony downtown if it wasn't interrupted by a train passing by.
Wes Curry was sworn in as Municipal Court Judge, Brian Bledsoe as Municipal Court Judge Pro Tem, Carol Jones Russell as Post III Municipal Court Judge Pro Tem, Phillip McSwain Jr. as Municipal Court Clerk, Shakita Taylor as Public Defender, Benjamin Thornoton as Assistant Public Defender, Sally O'Flynn as City Prosecutor, Anna Rush as Assistant City Prosecutor and Michael Shemper as City Prosecutor Pro Tem. Some appointees were not new and were already serving in their role.
"Our vision is that Hattiesburg, like everything else that it does, will have a world-class Municipal Court," Barker said. "We have the talent to do that, we have the skill, and now it's a matter of putting together the pieces and getting it done."
Barker said that he hoped that the ceremony signals the start of a new day for the city's Municipal Court.
"Our vision of this Municipal Court is that it not just be a revenue generator," Barker said. "We want this to be a place where people are brought here, many times not by their own choice, but still brought here and they come here and they are empowered to make better decisions. We think people making better decisions and living better lives will make us safer community. Municipal Court is not here to be punitive, it is here to build a safer community."
Mayor Barker acknowledged the great work that had been done by the previous Municipal Court Judge Jerry Evans.