Chancellor David Shoemake of the 13th Chancery District, including; Covington, Jefferson Davis, Lawrence, Simpson and Smith counties, has been suspended 30 days from the bench, fined $2,500, assessed $5,882.67 in costs and shall be publicly reprimanded in open Court by the Presiding Judge of the Simpson County Circuit Court on the first day of the next term of that Court.
Judge Shoemake was embroiled in conduct that lead to Chancellor Joe Dale Walker pleading guilty to witness tampering and being sentenced to 5 months in prison. Walker was accused of essentially self-dealing by helping a relative get a bid to build a home for a party that was before his Court, and increasing the bid and disbursing other funds. Shoemake signed 5 Orders regarding the monies, after same was transferred by Walker to him so Walker could avoid the appearance of impropriety, before it was transferred back to Walker by Shoemake.
A prior blog, citing a Judicial Performance investigation, included that Shoemake intentionally lied about signing the Orders. JPC recommended that Shoemake be permanently removed from the bench. However, the Mississippi Supreme Court said not so fast.
The Mississippi Supreme Court reviewed the pleadings, records and transcripts of depositions and found that JPC did not demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that Shoemake willfully mislead Judicial Performance (JPC) in his testimony regarding the Orders. Ultimately, Shoemake admitted to signing the Orders, but his testimony was unclear initially when asked if he signed all the Orders and exactly how things transpired. Upon having his recollection refreshed, having the benefit of reviewing the pleadings and the Orders, he did admit to signing the Orders in question. Due to the clarigfications in Shoemake’s testimony the MS Sup. Ct. disagreed with the JPC recommendation of removal and determined to suspend Judge for 30 days for lack of diligent oversight.
You can read the Opinion for yourself here. CO111052
Judicial Performance is asking the Supreme Court to reconsider.
The allegations regarding Jude Shoemake are limited to his on-the-bench conduct regarding oversight of the ward and convservatorship and whether same was a violation of the Cannons of Judicial Ethics. Shoemake did not benefit himself from the handling of this matter and is not accused of self-dealing nor criminal conduct.