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Mississippi Judge Suspended 30 Days; Publicly Reprimanded; Fined $500; Assessed $100 Court Cost

On April 13, 2011, the Supreme Court of Mississippi disagreed with Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance recommendation on a formal complaint filed against Lamar County Justice Judge Carol Ann Bustin, who was charged with executing a felony arrest warrant for David C. Lema. The warrant, which was based upon an affidavit from his ex-wife, charged Lema with kidnapping his own child.

Judge Bustin, who also is an attorney, was the counsel for the ex-wife in a separate divorce and child-custody matter. The commission charged Judge Bustin for violating Mississippi Code of Judicial Conduct Canons 1, 2A, 2B, 3B(1), 3B(2), 3B(8), 3E(1), (a)(b)(d), and 4A.

As the Supreme Court outlined each Canon, the court did not have a specific court ruling that was applicable in the instant case. The canons showed Judge Bustin "failed to observe high standards of conduct; acted in the manner that demoted public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judicial process; abused her office to advance private interest; failed to disqualify herself from matters that was in conflict; promoted prejudicism; and failed to adhere to established laws.

The court determined Judge Bustin abused her extrajudicial representation to interfere with her judicial duties, and her conduct was prejudicial to the administration of justice. The court also found that Judge Bustin had similar misconduct in the past. Judge Bustin received a 30 day suspension from office without pay, a public reprimand, $500 fine, and $100 fee assessed by the court. See: Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance v. Bustin, 71 So.3d 598 (Miss. 2011).

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Related legal case

Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance v. Bustin