Pulaski's circuit judges met today (14 of the 17 were on hand) to approve a case assignment plan for 2010, as required by Supreme Court rules.
As we reported earlier, the plan, presented by Chief Judge Vann Smith, includes the end of assignment of criminal cases to Circuit Judge Willard Proctor's court division. It provides that the division will handle only civil cases. A state judicial discipline panel has recommended Proctor's removal from the bench for numerous irregularities in his handling of criminal probation, particularly directing huge sums of money to a nonprofit organization he founded and controlled. This plan will govern case assignments whether Proctor is still on the bench next year or not.
Proctor proposed a plan by which his division would keep some criminal cases, about 300 a year.
The vote on the Smith proposal -- which also included some other changes on case assignment in other court divisions -- was approved 13-1, with only Proctor voting against it.
A question was raised about what will happen to Proctor employees, such as probation officers, who work on criminal cases next year. "I don't know what happens," Smith said.
Judges Jay Moody, Marion Humphrey and Collins Kilgore weren't present for the vote. Afteward, a motion for immediate adoption of the assignment plan was made (not approved as I said originally) and will be voted on next week. If approved, it will require Supreme Court approval and Proctor raised questions about whether circumstances met those set out for amendments of existing annual assignment plans.
-- Reporting by David Koon