The state auditor suggested Friday a Harrison County Chancery Court judge may have been influenced by her relationships with state Department of Marine Resources personnel during his investigation of his agency.
Judge Jennifer Schloegel ruled in favor of the Sun Herald in a records request involving DMR records, Auditor Stacey Pickering's office and the Attorney General's Office. She also found Pickering, Attorney General Jim Hood and several of their employees in contempt of court. Her rulings were overturned in March by the Mississippi Appeals Court.
"And I was really proud of that ruling that we had followed the law initially, and this upheld the fact the Sun Herald was wrong in their contempt charges against us, the judge was wrong in her rulings, never should have ruled in the first place," said Pickering on the Gallo Radio Show, which originates in Jackson but is broadcast statewide. "The Mississippi Appellate Court said she should have recused herself. It was a personal agenda she was on for some reason, whether it was her relationships with those individuals that we had, that with the DMR, her relationship with the Sun Herald, but somewhere along the lines, her judgement got clouded and the Mississippi Court of Appeals ruled that exact issue. That she should have recused herself and she didn't do it, much less her rulings were wrong."
When asked who the relationships at DMR were with, he clarified his statement.
"The statement was that I do not know if she had relationships that influenced her decisions," he wrote in a text message. "Those were named as possible relationships."
The deputy administrator for Chancery Court in Harrison County said Schloegel couldn't comment.
"Judge Schloegel is unable to address any comments related to the Auditor's case because the time allowed for the appeal process has not yet expired," Joy Danzey, the administrator, said in an email.
Pickering also criticized the Hinds County prosecutor over the indictment there of two of the auditor's investigators.
"I think we have a rogue prosecutor in Mississippi who's got his own personal agenda," he said. Pickering said that case was retribution because his office had prosecuted friends of District Attorny Robert Shuler Smith.
He said he expects his employees to be exonerated.