Nine months ago a now-former Mississippi judge is alleged to have smacked a mentally disabled man before yelling, "Run, n—ger, run." In response to that incident, a grand jury has "served an indictment for simple assault on a vulnerable adult," the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports.
There was no word on why the process to indict former Madison County Justice Court Judge Bill Weisenberger took so long, but Weisenberger's attorney told the newspaper in an emailed statement that the former judge has been cooperative since the alleged May 8 incident.
According to witnesses who spoke with news station WAPT, 20-year-old Eric Rivers, an African-American man with special needs, was working as a traffic monitor and parking attendant at a Canton, Miss., flea market May 8, when Weisenberger reportedly smacked him and yelled, "Run, n—ger, run."
On Thursday, Weisenberger turned himself in to the Madison County sheriff and was released on $10,000 bond.
"From the beginning of this matter, Judge Weisenberger has cooperated with each law-enforcement and investigatory agency that wanted to know what actually occurred at the Canton Flea Market last spring," Weisenberger's lawyer, Bill Kirksey, wrote in an emailed statement viewed by the Clarion-Ledger. "Judge Weisenberger has denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing or the commission of any crime against any person."
Kirksey also noted that he has no idea why this case has not been resolved faster; the Clarion-Ledger notes that some four grand juries came and went without ever having this case presented to them. He added that the attorney general's office controls which cases the grand jury hears.
The Clarion-Ledger reports that during the nine months that this case has been active but not resolved, Weisenberger has received his annual salary of $45,700, "though he voluntarily stepped down from the bench."
The newspaper also notes that more cases against the former judge have emerged in the past year: "he is accused of imposing an illegal DUI sentence against an African American in his courtroom," and he allegedly arrested and jailed an African-American woman on a made-up charge of "roaming livestock."
The Clarion-Ledger notes that a trial date has been set for June 8 in the flea market case and Weisenberger, if convicted, could face up to five years' imprisonment, a $1,000 fine or both.