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During the holidays, it’s easy to have stuff slip past us in the news.

There was a huge election result in Jones County last week. Twenty-eight year incumbent Circuit Court Judge Billy Joe Landrum got beat in a runoff by Dal Williamson.

Williamson led the general election field of four candidates on November 4th by 2,000 votes over Landrum. Williamson then won the runoff November 25th with over 65%.

The always colorful Landrum has come under fire from State Auditor Stacey Pickering, also a resident of Jones County. Pickering alleged that Landrum had misused some $313,000 of drug court funds for vehicles, fuel and salaries not associated with the administration of that program. Pickering and Landrum publicly tangled about the issue and Landrum went so far as to compare Pickering’s tactics to “Hitler.”

The reason that Landrum’s defeat is so significant is that Landrum’s jurisdiction had widely been known as a “judicial hellhole” and Landrum was considered to be the gatekeeper. Particularly, the silica litigation of the mid-2000s, which was discredited and widely considered to be rife with fraud, found a home in Landrum’s courtroom even after it was thrown out of the federal multi-district litigation (MDL).

Landrum’s defeat didn’t garner any statewide press, but his defeat was a major blow to trial lawyers. It was also real political vindication for Stacey Pickering in his own backyard.

Posted December 1, 2014 - 6:41 am

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