Mississippi Judge Resigns After Barring Mother from Seeing her Baby for 14 Months over Unpaid Court Fees
Pearl's Youth Court judge has resigned and the city's Youth Court has been permanently closed after the judge was accused of prohibiting a mother from contact with her 4-month-old child for 14 months until she paid court-imposed fees. The Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law filed a complaint on behalf of their client, calling for Pearl Youth Court Judge John Shirley to be fired. “As a civil rights lawyer in Mississippi, I am no stranger to injustice, but for a judge to prohibit an impoverished mother from having any contact with her baby until monetary payments are made is shocking and repugnant. Such orders are tantamount to judicial kidnapping,” Johnson said. “As a Mississippian with deep roots in this state that I love, I am deeply troubled by the many ways in which poor Mississippians, especially African Americans, are victimized by Mississippi’s legal system,” Johnson said. “We have litigated matters involving excessive bail, illegal jailing of misdemeanor offenders for unpaid fines and the refusal to provide poor criminal defendants with counsel, and now we see that not even the right to raise one’s children is beyond the reach of the injustice that befalls poor Mississippians."