Controversial Miss. judge resigns from bench

(WMC-TV) - The Mississippi judge who ordered three teens sent to jail for trespassing this summer will resign from the bench at the end of the month.

Judge Leigh Ann Darby, Tate Co. family master and youth court judge, came under fire after she ordered three 15-year-olds be given a drug test and transported to the Alcorn County Youth Detention Center in Corinth this summer.

The teens were strip searched per policy when they arrived at the detention center.  All three were eventually found not guilty of trespassing.

"Judge Darby indicated that distractions over the last month had severely reduced her effectiveness to serve and believed that she needed to resign," said Percy L. Lynchard, Jr., senior chancellor for the 3rd Chancery District of Mississippi

Lynchard made no excuses for Darby, saying her decision was extreme.

"She served almost four years, and until the last six months, I never had a complaint," said Lynchard.  "I felt it was an abuse of discretion to detain them."

Lynchard said it was not her decision to have the teens strip searched, instead the facility's policy.  He also said the only reason they stayed in the facility for three days is because they were picked up on a Friday evening.

"Acting as a Monday morning quarterback, so to speak, in reviewing her actions in conjunction with the statute, I didn't feel it was warranted," said Lynchard.

Darby's term would have expired on December 31.

Thursday night, Cliff Johnson, a lawyer representing the 15-year-olds, issued the following statement:

"My clients and I are very pleased to hear the news of Ms. Darby's resignation.  The publicity regarding Ms. Darby's mistreatment of my clients led to a barrage of phone calls and e-mails from people throughout North Mississippi whose personal encounters with  Ms. Darby led them to share our opinion that she does not possess the good judgment or temperament necessary to be an effective and fair judge.  We trust that Judge Lynchard will take very seriously his duty to insure that Ms. Darby's replacement is a person of outstanding integrity and ability who will apply the law fairly and treat all people with dignity and respect.  On a personal note, I am so proud of Lakiya, Larandra, and Kevonta for having the courage to stand up for what they know is right.  I hope they have learned that a few brave people can indeed make a difference in this world."

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