Judge Larry Buffington seems to be demolishing his own judicial career single handedly. The latest dust-up from the man who ran for two different judicial seats simultaneously, began when he appointed former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz to be Simpson County’s Youth Court public defender. Then Buffington, outraged that someone would leak to the media a public action, issued subpoenas to Simpson County’s two Republican supervisors to appear before him so he could find out who spoke to the media. Then he had to quash his own subpoenas (or squash them as we say in the YP nation). Next, he earned himself a complaint filed with the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance. Now, in a bit of irony, the Commission on Judicial Performance has issued a subpoena to WLBT for their footage of Buffington’s appearance before the Simpson County Board of Supervisors as part of its investigation. That’s just bad.
A friend of a friend of YP filed an open records request with the Simpson County Board of Supervisors and obtained an audio recording of Buffington’s entire performance. Here is Judge Larry Buffington’s own words contrasted with the Code of Judicial Conduct.
Regarding the Subpoenas
Code of Judicial Conduct: A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. (Canon 2-A)
Judge Larry Buffington (audio file): I asked this Board to be here today. Three of them agreed; two of them didn’t. And so I issued a subpoena. And they didn’t let my clerk and I didn’t comply with – be honest with you it didn’t comply with what the statute said, because I didn’t care. I wadn’t planning on having a big group here; wadn’t planning on having the media here. (Simpson County Board of Supervisors meeting: February 11, 2009)
Regarding Appointing Friends
Code of Judicial Conduct: Judges shall not allow their family, social, or other relationships to influence the judges judicial conduct or judgment. (Canon 2-B)
Code of Judicial Conduct: A judge shall exercise the power of appointment impartially and on the basis of merit. A judge shall avoid nepotism and favoritisim. (Canon 3-C-4)
Judge Larry Buffington (audio file): Now why did I hire these people? Just like I did Justice Diaz. I hired him because he’s competent. Everyone of these people that I hire I feel comfortable with. Everyone of them are my friends. Most people, when you hire people, you’re going to hire your friends. So I’m not ashamed of anybody I’ve hired. Because first of all, I know they can do the job. Secondly, I know they’re my friends. And I know they’re going to do things in a manner that’s going to be-that’s going to up hold what I uphold. (Simpson County Board of Supervisors meeting: February 11, 2009)
Regarding Covington County’s Hospital Contract
Code of Judicial Conduct: Judges shall not lend the prestige of their offices to advance the private interests of the judges or others; nor shall judges convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judges. (Canon 2-B)
Code of Judicial Conduct: Judges should refrain from financial and business dealings that tend to reflect adversely on their impartiality, interfere with the proper performance of their judicial duties, exploit their judicial positions, or involve them in frequent transactions with lawyers or persons likely to come before the court on which the judges serve. (Canon 4-D-1)
Judge Larry Buffington (audio file): I asked Joey McNulty to be here because I do want to say another thing since I’m ‘so anti-Simpson County.’ Joey McNulty got the contract on my local hospital in Covington County. I would dare to say that he would tell you, if hadn’t been for me he wouldn’t have gotten that contract, because I asked him to come down. We were having trouble with our local hospital, like a lot of them do, and I asked him to come down, and I arranged for a meeting with a couple of members of the Board of Supervisors and couple of members of the Board of the Hospital to discuss it, before they were fixin to sale the hospital, to give the con-the hospital to somebody else. He was a friend and I knew he was competent and I knew he could do the job. So I went to bat for him, and I don’t know exactly what he made off of it, but I know what his contract was for, and I know how much we billed last year. And it generated probably about a little over a million dollars for this community, because what did he do with that million dollars? He hired twenty to twenty-five more people. Local people. People that reside in-in Simpson County. May have hired three or four from Covington County, but most didn’t want to drive up there. So I asked him to come today because I was going to use him to show, because I first of all, I care about all my counties.