Meet the Judicial Candidates | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Meet the Judicial Candidates


Everything's complicated: Judicial candidate Ali ShamsidDeen (pictured) has drawn fire for apparently anti-white statements he made in The Jackson Advocate. Those remarks were revealed by a local blogger paid hundreds of dollars to do web work for his opponent Jeff Weill. You decide. Vote Nov. 2.

Sub-District 1

Bruce Burton
• Education: Alcorn State University, B.A. (1978); Southern University, J.D. (1999).
• Professional Experience: Southwest Mississippi Legal Services; Walls Law Firm (Greenwood); Burton Law Firm

Burton has previously run for Hinds County Justice Court. His campaign is almost entirely self-financed, with $20,236 of the $26,561 he has raised coming from his own funds.

Ali ShamsidDeen
• Education: University of Washington, B.A. (1975); Samford University, J.D. (2002)
• Professional Experience: editor, The Jackson Advocate; Lumumba and Freelon; Law Firm of Ali ShamsidDeen; Jackson Municipal Court Judge

ShamsidDeen has raised $21,981, with at least $7,000 coming from the Jackson area's Indian business community. His former employer, attorney Harvey Freelon, chipped in another $1,400. Other notable donors include businessman Socrates Garrett ($500), attorney Dennis Sweet ($1,000) and former Congressman Mike Espy ($500).

Jeff Weill (interview)
• Education: Michigan State University, B.A. (1979); University of Mississippi, J.D. (1982)
• Professional Experience: assistant district attorney, Copiah, Lincoln, Pike and Walthall counties; special prosecutor, Hinds County; independent mediation and arbitration practice; Ward 1 City Councilman (2007-present)

The Jackson councilman has raised $99,458, most of which he amassed in the first half of 2010. Top contributors include the Mississippi Medical Association's political action committee ($2,500), Jackson oilman William Mounger ($2,500), businessman Leland Speed ($1,000) and Gov. Haley Barbour's PAC ($500).

Sub-District 4

Malcolm Harrison (current appointee)
• Education: Jackson State University, B.A. (1991); Samford University, J.D. (1994)
• Professional Experience: Hinds County Prosecuting Attorney; interim Hinds County Circuit Court Judge (2009-present)

Harrison was Barbour's pick to fill the circuit court seat vacated by disgraced former judge Bobby DeLaughter and was Barbour's first African American judicial appointee. Barbour's PAC has chipped in $1,000 to Harrison's campaign. Harrison has raised $53,585 from sources including Good Samaritan Counseling of Raleigh, N.C. ($2,000), IMS Engineers ($500), the Mississippi Medical PAC ($1,000) and Mississippi Physicians PAC ($1,000).

Bill Gowan
• Education: University of Mississippi, B.A. – business administration (1964), J.D. (1966)
• Professional Experience: FDIC staff attorney; city of Jackson prosecutor; in-house counsel, Hinds County Sheriff's Department; two-time appointed interim Hinds County Court Judge; appointed special Circuit Court Judge (2008-present)

Gowan, a current special circuit court judge and longtime counsel for the Hinds County Sheriff's Department, has raised $59,979. Major campaign contributions include $12,500 from his relatives, the Dupre family of Lafayette, La., $1,500 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and $250 from the American National Bail Bonding Agency of Terry.

Hinds County Court District 1

Frank Farmer
• Education: Rhodes College, B.A. (1997); Mississippi College, J.D. (2001)
• Professional Experience: Currie Johnson Griffin Gaines & Myers; Young Williams

Farmer has supplied roughly a third ($6,857) of the $18,267 he has raised. Other donors to Farmer's campaign include Brandon physicians Keith and Mary Beth Thorne ($1,000) and Whit and George Johnson ($1,000).

Melvin Priester, Sr.
• Education: Boston University, B.A. (1972), M.A. (1973); University of Texas (1985)
• Professional Experience: Jackson Municipal Court Judge; Priester Law Firm; special Hinds County Circuit Judge – Jackson Enforcement Team (2008-present)

Priester's Oct. 8 campaign finance report shows a total of $72,227 raised, of which Priester himself supplied $37,857. Other major donors include MINACT President Booker T. Jones ($750), Jackson doctor Vonda Reeves Darby ($1,700) and former state Supreme Court Justice Fred Banks ($1,000).

Brent Southern
• Education: University of Mississippi, B.A. (1983), J.D. (1988)
• Professional Experience: high school football/baseball coach; Upshaw, Williams, Biggers, Page & Kruger; Lingle Griffis & Southern; Brent Southern Law Offices

Southern has raised $44,219 from a variety of sources. Southern's Oct. 8 campaign-finance report provides details on roughly half of the $20,820 he raised between
July 1 and Sept. 30. State law only requires candidates to itemize contributions above $200. Among the large contributions listed in Southern's Oct. 8 report are $2,500 from Oxford attorney Diann W. Coleman and $750 from Carroll McLeod of the Jackson Anesthesia Association.

Trent Walker
• Education: Jackson State University, B.A. (1991); Tulane University, J.D. (1996)
• Professional Experience: assistant Hinds County prosecutor; Currie Johnson Griffin Gaines and Myers; Blackmon & Blackmon; special Hinds County Circuit Court Judge; Schwartz & Associates (2009-present)

Walker, who served a year as a specially-appointed circuit judge, has raised $17,336. Major contributors include Walker's employer, Richard Schwartz ($2,500), and Schwartz's law firm ($1,000), Greg Williams, a telecommunications engineer for the U.S. House of Representatives ($2,500), political blogger Alan Lange ($200) and businessman Bill Dilday ($200).

Hinds County Court District 2

Henry Clay III
• Education: Millsaps College, B.A. (1980); University of Mississippi, J.D. (1983)
• Professional Experience: assistant attorney general, Mississippi Attorney General's Office; assistant district attorney, Hinds County District Attorney's Office; Law Office of Henry C. Clay III; Jackson Municipal Court (1994-present)

Clay submitted a single campaign finance report Oct. 15, showing no funds raised or spent on his campaign.

Bridgett Clayton
• Education: University of Mississippi, B.A. (1982); Mississippi College, J.D. (1994)
• Professional Experience: Owens Law Firm; assistant county prosecutor, Hinds County; Jackson Municipal Court (2008-present)

Clayton has raised $14,131, according to her Oct. 8 campaign finance report. Major donors include West­haven Memorial Funeral Home owner Freddie Davis ($400) and New Hope Baptist Church Pastor Jerry Young ($250). Clayton and her husband, Johnny Clayton, have contributed $6,000 to her campaign.

Houston Patton (incumbent)
• Education: Fresno State University, B.A. (1965); Southern University, J.D. (1972)
• Professional Experience: Jackson Community Legal Services; Patton, Page, Moyo Law Firm; Patton Law Office; County Court Judge (1989-present)

Patton is facing an ethics proceeding in the state Supreme Court, as well as a federal civil-rights lawsuit stemming from a bribery accusation he made in 1997. His campaign finance report shows $6,731.90 in expenses and no contributions for the month of June. Patton's October filing reports $7,238 in contributions between July 1 and Sept. 30, none of them itemized. The report also shows $8,672 in expenses to date (including $1,940 from Jul. 1 to Sept. 30) leaving Patton's campaign $1,433 in debt.

Hinds County Court District 3

Bill Skinner (incumbent)
• Education: Hinds Community College (1990), Mississippi College, B.A. (1994), M.A. (1995), J.D. (1998)
• Professional Experience: Jackson Police Department; associate, Gardner and Grant; Skinner & Associates; Hinds County Justice Court Judge; Youth Court and Drug Court, Hinds County Court Judge (2007-present)

A longtime Jackson police officer, Skinner has raised $7,755 according to his Oct. campaign finance report. His largest donors include attorney Kelly G. Williams of Madison ($1,000), physician Chris D. Hughes ($500), attorney Brandon Dorsey ($300) and the American National Bail Bond Agency of Terry ($250).

Michael Williams
• Education: Millsaps College, B.A. (1979); Tulane University, J.D. (1986)
• Professional Experience: Stamps & Stamps; Davis Goss & Williams (1989-present)

Williams reported raising a total of $18,415 in his Oct. report. Major contributors include Health Assurances, LLC, of Jackson ($1,000), the law office of Jackson City Attorney Pieter Teeuwissen ($300) and law firm Owens Moss PLLC ($900). Williams has also tapped $9,808 of his own.

Previous Comments


I voted for Priester because his wife showed up on my front lawn three weeks ago (and it was HOT then!) sweating her sweet face off and she told me, "Any woman who has been married to a man for 36 years and will get out and walk neighborhoods to support him, well, that man must be a good man." I looked at The Man and thought about 32 years down the road and said "Yep." That and the Mother-In-Law commercial did me in. (And, please, I did read his voting record so no one FREAK OUT!)

Lori G

All, in case it isn't clear, you can click on their names above to see their interview with the JFP. Also, go to for all our political coverage this session, including an interview with Alan Nunnelee.


I don't get this: "Everything's complicated: Judicial candidate Ali ShamsidDeen (pictured) has drawn fire for apparently anti-white statements he made in The Jackson Advocate. Those remarks were revealed by a local blogger paid hundreds of dollars to do web work for his opponent Jeff Weill. You decide." What is at all "complicated" about his hateful, racist statements? It's also more than a little silly to refer to articles THAT HE WROTE IN A NEWSPAPER as being "revealed by a local blogger." If I tell someone about a JFP article, have I "revealed" the article to them? The judge's comments are indefensible; which blogger posted them is irrelevant. By suggesting otherwise, JFP is simply trying to draw attention away from the real issue.


Keep up, Willie. The JFP has long been on the record against the anti-white and brown society rhetoric the Advocate is known for, and we came out against naming the library after Mr. Tisdale due to all of that. And I am not a fan of Mr. Shamsid Deen for other reasons as well. However, it also makes sense to point out that someone making a huge deal about his comments shows up on his opponent's campaign finance reports for web work (which Mr. Weill confirmed). One thing doesn't cancel the other out, but they are both relevant pieces of information. Just because you or someone on the other side prefer one with the other doesn't change anything.


Nearly twenty years ago, when Officer Skinner told me he was going to beat my ass on the way to the jailhouse, I told myself, "If this guy ever runs for youth court judge, I'm voting for the other guy!" What did I do to earn such a threat, you may ask? Some other high school seniors and I were getting ready to paint our names on Forest Hill road.


@ tre - did he really beat you down? I just think Karma is a mutha you know what wat and I would love to hear more about that situation.

Duan C.

No, he didn't beat me down. He just told me he was going to while he had me stretched out over his hood, patting me down. Then a pickup passed by and backfired, which he mistook for a gunshot and left us to go chase them. It's a long story, but I definitely remember him from his police officer days - when he had long hair (in the back) and an earring. It's hard to imagine that person being involved with youth in any positive way.


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