Around Mississippi: Leflore County judge accused of forging signatures by his family in estate squabble

September 23, 2014 in News, The Buzz

The Associated Press

Members of the Delta Gamma sorority welcome a new member as part of Bid Day at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/The Daily Mississippian, Thomas Graning)

Members of the Delta Gamma sorority welcome a new member as part of Bid Day at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/The Daily Mississippian, Thomas Graning)

Here are some news and notes around Mississippi:

In Greenwood, family members accuse a Leflore county justice court judge of forging signatures on land records related to his dead father’s estate.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reports that his mother and sister made the claims against Leflore County Justice Court Judge James K. Littleton III in a Bolivar County lawsuit. The questions are influencing Littleton’s race for a circuit court judgeship.

In court filings and two complaints filed with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office, Bonnie Littleton and Melaney Littleton Phillips accuse the judge of signing their names without their permission on land records. The documents include questioned deeds in which the women renounced claims to a Greenwood house and 40 acres of Bolivar County farmland near Mound Bayou.

The secretary of state suspended and then revoked the notary commission of a secretary at James Littleton’s law office after she acknowledged that she notarized documents without seeing the women sign them.

The family dispute has also become an issue in the current campaign for the circuit court seat that is being left vacant by the retirement of Judge Betty Sanders. Mr. Littleton, who denies any forgery occurred, says his relatives have gone public with their allegations in an intentional effort to undermine his candidacy.

James A. Littleton Jr. died without a will in March 2010.

The following December, James K. Littleton III submitted two deeds — purportedly signed by his mother and sister — in which they surrendered claims to the farmland and Greenwood home. On Feb. 17, 2011, Littleton filed a motion to close the estate, stating he had assumed his father’s debts.

In September 2013, Littleton’s sister and mother sued, disputing claims that the father died in debt.

Their attorney, Rob Tyner of Clarksdale, wrote that both the sister and mother “unequivocably state that the signatures which appear on the waivers are not theirs and maintain that they did not sign a waiver on February 4, 2011 or at any other time, nor have they ever been furnished a waiver to sign.”

In Hattiesburg, Public School District officials say they’re working to make sure juvenile offenders charged as adults are taught outside regular classes.

A parent complained last month that a ninth-grade girl at Hattiesburg High had made friends with a 14-year-old ninth-grader who had been charged as an adult for sexual battery of a younger child.

The complaint was the district’s first word of the charge, The Hattiesburg American reported.

“Normally, we get a report from the juvenile judge and the juvenile detention center,” Superintendent James Bacchus said. “This particular (student) was charged as an adult and somehow there was a communication breakdown.”

Central office staff also work with the district police force to check the jail dockets and the newspaper for any students who may have been arrested and charged as adults, district spokesman Jas N Smith said.

“We try to stay as informed as we can on our end,” he said. “If what the student is charged with poses a safety issue to students or faculty, we will then do whatever we can to make it a safe environment for students and staff.”

Hattiesburg Police Department spokesman Lt. Jon Traxler said the department working with the Forrest County Youth Court Attorney to create a policy about releasing juveniles’ names to school districts.

In Canton, the owner of a video production company has bought Mississippi Film Studios.

Rick Moore, who owns Ridgeland ad and branding agency Mad Genius and production company Eyevox Entertainment, bought the Canton facility. A price was not disclosed.

The 43,000-square foot building includes a 35,000 square-foot sound stage.

The Clarion-Ledger reports Eyevox is Mississippi’s largest privately owned video and film production company with an 11,000-square-foot facility, including a 4,000-square-foot studio, in Ridgeland.

Mad Genius and Eyevox merged in 2009, combining facilities, services and personnel under the Mad Genius flag. Eyevox Entertainment, Mad Genius’ creative property division, has helped produce films and television shows with producers across the world.

Canton’s convention and visitors bureau operated and managed Mississippi Film Studios before Moore bought it.

In Starkville, works of a visiting artist-in-residence are on display through Nov. 8 at Mississippi State University’s Visual Arts Center Gallery.

WCBI-TV reports the exhibit is free and open to the public.

“Migration and Other Natural History Phenomena” features nature-inspired illustrations by watercolor artist Peggy Macnamara of Chicago.

In addition to serving since 1990 as artist-in-residence at the Field Museum of Natural History, Macnamara is a professor of scientific illustration at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She holds a master’s degrees in art history from the University of Chicago.

The exhibition and related programs are made possible through a Mississippi Arts Commission grant and support from the Starkville Area Arts Council and the university’s colleges of veterinary medicine and architecture, art and design.