County aims to fix justice court staffing issues
By Dwayne Bremer
Jan 15, 2013, 17:02
Members of the Hancock County Board of Supervisors said this week that they hope to have several vacancies at Hancock County Justice Court filled by the end of the month.
Last week, it was revealed that justice court was in dire need of employees after a string of resignations, retirements, and terminations.
The shake-up continued on Monday when another justice court employee turned in her two-week notice, officials said.
Last month, long-time chief Clerk Liz Cook-Martin announced her retirement.
Last week, the board of supervisors decided to terminate justice court's second-in-command.
Board of Supervisors Vice-President Steve Seymour said Monday that the board close to hiring new clerks for the top two positions.
"We have narrowed our search down to five people who are being interviewed this week," Seymour said. "Hopefully, we can get the two positions filled soon."
Seymour said the county is also looking for additional support staff because of other recent resignations and retirements.
Last year, justice court had seven full-time employees. Currently, there are only two, officials said.
Court employees are under the authority of the board of supervisors, not the county's three elected judges.
Last year, the board contracted the Mississippi State Extension Service to evaluate justice court.
Seymour said the evaluation found that justice court needed to be run more efficiently.
Unfortunately, the employee shortage comes at a time when justice court is busier than ever.
In the past year, the Mississippi Highway Patrol has added several new troopers to patrol Hancock County; Diamondhead now has its own police force; and the new Hancock County Jail reopened.
The added troopers and officers and new jail have resulted in more tickets and more criminal cases, officials said.
Justice Court is currently being investigated by the state auditor's office; however, none of the recent retirements or terminations have anything to do with the investigation, officials said.
Seymour said anyone wishing to apply for the open support staff positions at justice court can contact justice court or apply at the Hancock County government complex on Highway 90.
Applications are also being taken at the WIN Job Center in Waveland.