JACKSON, Miss. — A Mississippi jurist can call herself “JudgeCutie” without ruffling the dignity of the legal profession.
That’s what the Mississippi Supreme Court says, in one of its speediest decisions in years.
Only two days after hearing arguments, the court — which often takes months for decisions — dismissed a complaint filed against Gay Polk-Payton. The Forrest County justice court judge has gone by “JudgeCutie” on social media.
The state Commission on Judicial Performance sought to reprimand her, saying she had used her job on the bench and the online persona to promote herself as a motivational speaker and musical entertainer. The commission complaint said Polk-Payton had expressed opinions online about her job as a judge, and it criticized her for wearing her judge’s robe on the cover of her book that was a compilation of her social media posts.
During arguments to the Supreme Court, her attorney Oliver Diaz — himself a former state Supreme Court justice — pointed out that other Mississippi judges have used names that some might consider less than dignified. One was Noah “Soggy” Sweat, a circuit judge from 1966 to 1974. Randy Pierce, a justice who recently left the Supreme Court, was known as Bubba.
Diaz told The Associated Press he thinks the commission was unfairly singling out Polk-Payton for punishment because she’s a woman.
“It was a frivolous filing,” Diaz said of the commission’s complaint.
Court papers say “Judge Cutie” is a play on the name of TV’s “Judge Judy.”
Justices said they found “no violation of the Mississippi Code of Judicial Conduct” by Polk-Payton. Mississippi justice court judges are elected and generally work part time. They handle misdemeanor criminal cases, traffic offenses that occur outside city limits and civil claims of $3,500 or less.
Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .