RELEASE: Warren County Board Removes Palmertree From Office

VICKSBURG – Warren County Circuit Clerk Shelly Ashley Palmertree was removed from office today by the Warren County Board of Supervisors for violating the state law governing residency requirements for elected officials.

Board President Bill Lauderdale said an affidavit signed by Palmertree was presented during an evidentiary hearing showing her residence as Madison County, not Warren County where she was elected circuit clerk in 2004.

Marcie Southerland, board attorney for Warren County, said §MS Code 25-1-59 requires a public official during his/her term of elected office to reside in the “…state, district, county, county district or municipality…” for which he/she was elected or appointed. Otherwise the office is declared vacant.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering said his agency’s Investigative Division had been asked by Warren County supervisors to work with them to verify Palmertree’s residence. Investigators from the Office of the State Auditor presented the affidavit from the Madison County School District signed by Palmertree on July 23, 2013, attesting that she was a permanent resident of Canton.

Lauderdale said, “We are grateful to the Auditor’s Office for assisting us with this unusual set of circumstances. Fortunately, this kind of situation does not occur very often and we appreciate an office with statewide jurisdiction assisting us with this local matter.”

Pickering praised the five-member board for taking action to remove Ms. Palmertree from office. “The taxpayers of Warren County should praise them as well,” Pickering said. “Her history of a lack of professional accounting practices has already dealt the county a tremendous financial loss amounting to almost $800 thousand.”

Demands issued to Palmertree are pending in Hinds County Chancery Court. In January 2014 she was indicted on three counts of felony embezzlement by a Warren County Grand Jury.

“Today’s action by the board removes her from the position of overseeing Warren County’s business which is a good move,” Pickering said.

Immediately following the hearing, the board had locks changed on doors to the circuit clerk’s office and issued an order to freeze civil and criminal bank accounts under Ms. Palmertree’s control. OSA investigators and auditors conducted a count of all cash and checks, and reviewed documents and other accounts under the clerk’s authority. The office remained closed Monday to conduct the accounting procedures.

5/19/14