Justice Court Judge Bill Weisenberger of Madison County has been indicted on a charge of simple assault involving a confrontation that he allegedly had with a mentally disabled man in which the judge was accused of striking Eric Rivers, a 20-year-old African American, and yelling “Run, nigger, run.” The alleged assault occurred at the Canton Flea Market on May 8 of last year where Weisenberger was working as either a security guard or a traffic monitor (accounts differ).
Witnesses have said that Rivers was asking vendors for tips to help load and unload their vehicles.
Weisenberger voluntarily stepped down from the bench but is continuing to receive his annual salary of $47,500.
If convicted, Weisenberger could face up to 5 years imprisonment and a fine for the felony.
This is not the only allegation against Weisenberger (who by the way takes a cheerful mugshot). He has been accused of imposing an illegal DUI sentence against an African American in his courtroom. There is also a lawsuit filed against both the judge and the county over the arrest of an African American women on the charge of “roaming livestock.” No such charge exists.
A woman at the flea market also accused the judge of berating a female vendor in front of her and, when the vendor objected to his tone, she alleges that the judge told her to get her husband “because he didn’t take orders from a woman.” She also said that she heard the judge bragging about slapping the autistic man earlier.
Weisenberger is a Republican elected in 2011 and is a former law enforcement officer and former emergency operations director in Madison County. Notably, in Mississippi, the only requirement to be elected a Justice Court judge is a high school diploma and, if elected, courses of up to six hours of training a year.
That would seem one obvious reform for the state. A law degree would seem a reasonable condition for being a judge in any state.