"I've not resigned and not received a termination letter," June Hardwick, a Jackson municipal judge, told the Jackson Free Press this afternoon.
Hardwick, whom Mayor Chokwe Lumumba appointed to a judgeship in 2013, was responding to rumors on a local blog that she had stepped down from her post last week.
Fueling the speculation that Mayor Tony Yarber, who has been cleaning house of many of the late mayor's appointments, is the fact that two municipal court appointees are up for nomination on tonight's city council—Gerald Mumford and Bob Waller.
The city's website lists six municipal judges, including Waller. Hardwick's name does not appear on the list, but it's unclear when the site was last updated.
Things have been tense between Hardwick, a former Hinds County public defender, and Yarber since May when Hardwick set a bond for a murder suspect that Yarber felt was too low. Yarber told WJTV that he would considering removing judges who weren't tough enough on violent criminals.
"We intend on ensuring that if you sit in a municipal judge seat in this city then the expectation is that you will value the lives and the families of those people who are affected by violent crimes by setting a bond that is appropriate in terms of that crime," Yarber told WJTV, "and $50,000 bond for a life that was taken...we're not tolerating that."
In that case, a 19-year-old named Wilber Clay was arrested for the Mother's Day shooting death of 29-year-old Ebony Hervey.
Yarber demurred when another WJTV reporter asked about the situation with Hardwick earlier today.
"I'm focused on the two (people) we have nominated," Yarber said.
The city code briefly talks about the rules of judicial appointments — "at the time provided for the appointment of other officers, not more than three municipal judges shall be appointed by the mayor and confirmed by an affirmative vote of a majority of the council present and voting" — but also stops short of stating specific circumstances for removing them from the bench.
In the meantime, despite all the consternation over Clay's bail being insufficiently tough, records from the Hinds County Sheriff's Office shows that Clay remains incarcerated in the Raymond Detention Center.
Hardwick is scheduled to sit on the bench Wednesday afternoon.