Fayette County Judge Mike Whitaker has been getting heat for changes he's made since he was elected six months ago. Thursday that all came to a head, when District Attorney Mike Dunavant served him with papers.
According to the complaint, Fayette County District Attorney Mike Dunavant wants to see Judge Mike Whitaker on the other side of the bench.
Thursday, Whitaker said expected something like this. "So long as they're not armed, I don't care what they say about me," he said.
Whitaker was taking it as well as possible. "It's not shocking or anything. It's a good way to dispute," he said. "If we got a dispute we need to settle, if I'm wrong, I'll change."
The complaint centers on two recent changes Whitaker made in his courtroom. First, a decision to release at least 11 misdemeanor inmates. Then, a memo instructing law enforcement officers in Fayette County to not charge suspects with more than two warrants on any single event, because it creates too much paperwork.
"You look at my numbers, you'd think I'm presiding over Baghdad," he said. "Fayette County is relatively safe, but they count every one of these frivolous charges as a separate case, so police are misrepresenting what they're actually doing, and I'm misrepresenting how hard I'm working. You'd think I'm working hard. I'm not. This is a very light job."
Whitaker said he knew when he became judge, not all of his decisions would be popular. "I certainly hoped I'd be affirmed in my practices," he said. "If I'm wrong, I'll just correct it. I make mistakes."
Whitaker has 30 days to file an answer to the complaint, at which time it will either go to circuit court or to a special judge.
District Attorney Mike Dunavant was not available for comment.