Supreme Court hands former Simpson Co. judge a win in contempt of court case

Gavel on sounding block
Gavel on sounding block(Source: Gray News)
Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 4:40 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A former Simpson County judge will get a new trial in front of a different judge to determine whether a two-year-old contempt of court count should still stand.

Recently, the Mississippi Supreme Court denied a petition from the attorney general to reverse a decision by the Mississippi Court of Appeals granting former Judge Larry Buffington a new trial.

The high court handed down its ruling on June 25, with all nine justices in agreement.

The decision comes months after the court of appeals reversed Simpson Co. Chancery Judge David Shoemake’s decision May 2019 decision to hold former Chancery Judge Larry Buffington in criminal contempt following an argument between the two in Shoemake’s court.

Buffington, who was serving as an attorney in a case that was before Shoemake at the time, was jailed following the incident.

The appellate ruled that much of Buffington’s “alleged contemptuous conduct falls under the classification of constructive rather than direct criminal contempt” and that “Buffington was entitled to ‘more than the immediate sentence he received, including a different judge to hear the contempt proceedings.’”

The case stems from a May 6, 2019 argument between Shoemake and Buffington.

During the pretrial conference for a child custody case that day, Shoemake had brought up a petition filed by Buffington and questioned the language that Buffington used in the document.

When Buffington answered, the judge told him that was crossing the line, according to court documents.

Buffington then referenced a separate civil suit he had filed against Shoemake, and a motion he had filed for Shoemake to recuse himself as a result of that suit.

It was not known when a new trial would be set.

A copy of the appellate ruling is shown below.

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