Former mayor faced possible judicial discipline

LITTLE RIVER-ACADEMY — Former Little River-Academy Mayor Ronnie White resigned his position as municipal judge to prevent any possible discipline by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, according to a commission letter obtained by the Telegram.

Specifically, the letter said the complaint against White was considered on June 16, at which time the commission voted to accept White’s voluntary agreement to resign from judicial office in lieu of disciplinary action. The letter was signed by Seana Willing, executive director of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

White signed the agreement on June 9.

White can never again serve as a judge, file for election or appointment to a judicial office and perform any judicial duties or functions, including officiating at a wedding.

The agreement said that if White violates any part of the agreement, the commission could take any legal process necessary to stop him. In addition, White would be responsible for any expenses, costs and fees associated with any future findings against him.

White swore on May 11 before Little River-Academy City Secretary Nonie Tomastik that he understood the terms and conditions of the commission and voluntarily agreed to resign, a copy of a notarized form signed by Tomastik said.

White didn’t admit to any guilt, fault or liability regarding anything listed in the complaint, the letter said.

“I did it to be done with it because 30 years (as municipal judge) was enough,” White said Monday. “I did discuss with the commission what the complaints were about, and they said they didn’t find anything serious. But I told them I was quitting anyway.”

“I didn’t resign to get out of trouble. I resigned because I didn’t like what the (City) Council was voting for the cop to do — hide behind the railroad tracks, behind the trees and stuff like that. We’ve never done that. We’ve always thought if you’re going through town and you see the police car and slow down, we’ve done our job,” White said.

The voluntary agreement said no findings or facts were made on complaints by Little River-Academy Police Chief Frankie Poole, but both sides agreed the allegations of judicial misconduct, if found to be true, could result in disciplinary action against White.

Poole alleged White improperly engaged in dual-office holding by maintaining the positions of mayor and judge at the same time, dismissed citations without a motion from the state, changed charged offenses to warnings, negotiated case dispositions frequently with defendants without a prosecutor present and without requesting or getting a plea, as well as other demeanor issues, the letter said.

Poole said he filed possibly more than 12 complaints of alleged judicial misconduct over a period of time against White.

White previously listed his way of handling the municipal judge position as the “Little River way.”

“I’ve always done it like this ever since I’ve been judge. We talk about it and work it out. I help them all I can,” White said.