Judge sanctioned for helping landlord, ordered to pay $5,400

mississippi-supreme-court-5d532df3927e001fJACKSON, Miss. (AP) – A north Mississippi judge must pay $5,400 after he increased penalties in favor of a landlord above what was requested, without giving a tenant a chance to fight the decision.

The Mississippi Supreme Court, on a 5-4 decision Thursday, publicly reprimanded Montgomery County Justice Court Judge Keith Stokes Roberts. Justices ordered him to pay a $3,000 fine and $2,400 in court costs.

Justices found Roberts improperly intervened in a suit where tenant Marci Gastineau was accused of bouncing a $450 rent check.

The justices say Roberts improperly advised landlord Rebecca Herring to increase the amount she sought from $546.50 to $3,564, and then granted that larger judgment. The decision says Roberts also suggested Gastineau seek an eviction order, which Roberts then granted.

Dissenters say the majority is being too hard on Roberts.

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