The name is Forrest, Forrest Gump

Pearl River County Justice Court Judge Nell Cowart

Sometimes when I look back over my 20 plus year career practicing public accounting I sometimes laugh at the cast of characters I’ve met simply doing my job.  For instance, I met Patriot QB Tom Brady’s dad well before Jr was in the NFL.

So when I see a judge in the news like troubled Pearl River County Justice  Court Judge Nell Cowart I had to chuckle.  I’ve met Nell several times and knew her late husband, who was the justice court judge before Nell. The only problem of course is that Nell, while a sweet lady, is not judge material as this recent story from the Picayune Item illustrates:

For the second time during her tenure in office, Justice Court Judge Nell Y. Cowart has been recommended for suspension by the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance. She holds the justice court seat for the Southeast District of Pearl River County.

According to a press release from the Commission sent out on Friday, the Commission will recommend to the Mississippi Supreme Court that Cowart be suspended for 60 days without pay and fined about $2,000 to pay for the costs of Commission proceedings.

The recommendation came down after an investigation was conducted by the Commission into actions by Cowart considered by the commission to be inappropriate assistance to Anita Carol Pearson and comments she made from the bench when Pearson was before her in her courtroom, the release states.

Evidence presented in the Commission’s findings state that on Jan. 27, 2009, Cowart declined to sign a search warrant requested by the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department to seize and search a computer owned by Pearson, according to the commission. When Pearson was arrested by the Sheriff’s Department on Feb., 6, 2009, and brought before her in an initial appearance on charges of eight counts of felony kidnapping, armed robbery and extortion, Cowart ordered deputies in the courtroom to remove Pearson’s handcuffs, “stating Pearson was not a criminal,” the findings state.

Then, on Feb. 27, 2009, when Pearson was again arrested by the Sheriff’s Department on the charge of conspiracy to intimidate a state witness, Pearson’s husband went to Cowart’s home and asked her to get Pearson out of jail, the findings state. According to the findings, Cowart, believing Pearson was arrested for the same charges as on Feb. 6, and therefore thinking the arrest was improper, called the Sheriff’s Department and demanded that Pearson be released from jail, which the investigator said could not happen until a bond hearing was held.

The findings of fact from the first time Judge Nell was suspended can be found here.  While I harbor no illusions the voters in Pearl River County are actually intelligent enough to want an impartial judiciary, Judge Nell should do them all a big favor and resign. Frankly, given her history, I have a hard time understanding why she wasn’t recommended for removal but maybe I’m just strange that way.


4 thoughts on “The name is Forrest, Forrest Gump”

  1. What surprises me is not that Cowart is still some kind of Judge in Pearl River County, Mississippi, but she hadn’t enough smarts to figure out how to get elected Judge in Orleans Parish, Louisiana and still live in Pearl River. She would be a perfect fit to take Spears’ seat, assuming Spears is ever stripped of her robe; or better yet, removed by being nominated to the Federal Bench with the aid of Richmond and his powerful friends like Landrieu, Breaux, Connick, Cannizaro etc.

    I not familiar with the Code of Conduct for Mississippi Judges, but is STUPID a cause to remove someone from the bench there ?

  2. “I not familiar with the Code of Conduct for Mississippi Judges, but is STUPID a cause to remove someone from the bench there ?”

    so far, no one has been smart enough to think of that – maybe your comment will help!

  3. In Mississippi Justice Court judges do not have to be a lawyer and are elected. What we are seeing with Judge Nell is not that uncommon – the intersection of self interest driven ignorance and the law.


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