It’s the lawyer vs. the law officer in a runoff for the Jones County Justice Court Judge’s seat for District 2 on Tuesday.
Incumbent Noel Rogers will face off with Sonny Saul when polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Only voters who cast ballots in Calhoun, Gitano, L.T. Ellis, Matthews, North Laurel, Pleasant Ridge, Shady Grove and Springhill/Mauldin are voting in the runoff.
Rogers was appointed to the position in July by the Jones County Board of Supervisors after beating out four others who participated in public interviews. Saul was one of those who interviewed with supervisors to replace Judge Billie Graham, who was appointed by Gov. Tate Reeves to Chancery Judge after longtime chancellor Frank McKenzie retired.
But in the general election, Saul picked up the most votes in the four-candidate race, 2,615 to 2,131, but neither got 50 percent plus one, forcing a runoff.
Rogers is a private-practice attorney who lives in Ellisville and has been serving as judge since July. He grew up on a family farm in Taylorsville, attended Jones County Junior College and started practicing law in Laurel 20 years ago. He currently serves on the board of The Salvation Army in Laurel.
Saul retired from the Mississippi Highway Patrol and was serving as a School Resource Officer at Stringer Attendance Center. He also served as a high school football referee for years.
Justice court handles civil cases up to $3,500, traffic tickets, misdemeanors and initial appearances for felonies, among other things. They can also sign search warrants, so a good working relationship with local law enforcement is important, candidates have said.
Justice court judges make an annual salary of $44,700. They are not required to have a law degree, but two of the three on Jones County’s bench do. District 3 Judge David Lyons is a retired chief of the Laurel Police Department, and Judges Grant Hedgepeth and Rogers are attorneys, as was Rogers’ predecessor, Graham.