Re-elect Judge Zach Vaughn as your Forrest County Justice Court – Post 2, on November 5th!
I want to thank you for taking a few moments to visit my website. I hope you find it informative and useful to assist you in deciding who to vote for, as well a beneficial resource as an overview of Mississippi’s Justice Court system.
To begin, Justice Court is often described as “small claims court.” This title is true on one hand, but misleading on the other. As described on the Role of Justice Court tab, a Justice Court Judge presides over civil cases involving $3,500.00 or less, as well as criminal misdemeanor trials that occur outside the city limits. They are also responsible for authorizing search and arrest warrants, reviewing officer affidavits, and presiding over domestic protection orders, as well as setting bonds for those charged with misdemeanors and felonies.
I am seeking re-election to ensure justice is served to the people of Forrest County. I am seeking re-election to be sure our law enforcement officers have warrants that will stand up on appeal. I am seeking re-election to listen the victims, and protect their interests. I am seeking re-election to protect the Constitutional rights of the accused by making sure they have reasonable bonds, access to a public defender if needed, and recognition of their right to preliminary hearings and initial appearances. In essence, I am seeking re-election to see to it that the job is done, that it is done efficiently, and done correctly.
I was elected to this position last year by the people of Petal to fill the final year of Judge Causey’s term. I am now seeking re-election to a full four-year term on the Republican ticket. I truly believe our Constitution is a document that was developed to restrict the powers of government while empowering the people. I am running for re-election to be sure that the people are given a fair shake, and to hold the government to their burden of proof.
I am asking for your vote on November 5th to ensure that integrity, humility, and experience remain on the bench. Thank you once again for your support last year, and I truly hope that you will once again show that same enthusiasm and support by casting your vote for real experience.
Zachary M. Vaughn
Zach Vaughn was born in 1976 in Marietta, Georgia, to Gary and Brenda Vaughn. He graduated from Lassiter High School in 1994 and continued his studies at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs, Wyoming. While at WWCC, he received an associate’s degree with an emphasis in criminal justice. Following his graduation from WWCC, he attended the University of Mississippi and graduated in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. In the fall of 2001, he enrolled at the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson, Mississippi. Throughout law school, he worked part-time at the campus bookstore while also serving as a law clerk for local Jackson firms where he gained early experience in civil and criminal defense. Zach completed his studies and graduated from Mississippi College School of Law with a juris doctorate in May 2004.
After receiving his law degree, Zach immediately began preparing for the Mississippi Bar Exam held in July 2004. Months later, Zach learned he passed the bar exam and was sworn in as an attorney in fall 2004. Now a licensed attorney, Zach continued working for one of the defense firms that he began working with while in law school. In November 2004, he married the former Jessica Barlow of Terry, Mississippi.
Zach had long been interested in criminal prosecution and, after learning that there was a need for prosecutors in the state of Arkansas, he decided to sit for the February 2005 Arkansas Bar Exam. Upon passing the Arkansas Bar Exam, he was hired in April 2005 as a deputy prosecuting attorney for the 10th Judicial District of Arkansas, which comprised the five most southeastern counties of Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Desha, and Drew counties, Arkansas. Within two weeks of beginning this new position, he tried his first jury trial. During his tenure in Arkansas, he prosecuted criminal cases ranging from theft and drug possession to capital murder, rape, and burglary. It was common for the deputy prosecuting attorneys in this jurisdiction to try multiple criminal jury trials in a single week, which allowed Zach to gain invaluable experience that serves him to this day. In addition to his criminal responsibilities, he was eventually the designated attorney within his office responsible for civil forfeiture cases, thereby expanding his civil law experience. While in Arkansas, Zach tried more than 150 criminal jury trials.
Zach greatly enjoyed his professional tenure in Arkansas, and in late 2010 learned of an open position for an assistant district attorney with the 12th Judicial District of Mississippi. Upon being offered this position, Zach accepted and moved his growing family back to Mississippi in December 2010. Zach and Jessica decided to settle in Petal, and on January 1, 2011, Zach began his new position as an assistant district attorney serving the residents of Forrest and Perry counties in Mississippi.
This new position allowed Zach to utilize his extensive trial experience, and he continued to prosecute felonies in Mississippi. Zach prosecuted felonies ranging from capital murder, burglary, assault, gang violence, and drugs. After handling approximately 20 jury trials and negotiating hundreds of pleas in the 12th Judicial District, Zach decided to enter private practice and resigned on December 31, 2016.
On January 1, 2017, he began his new venture with Vaughn Law Firm in Petal while also being unanimously appointed the municipal prosecutor for the City of Petal on July 1, 2017. In his private practice, Zach and his wife Jessica put their legal experience together and formed a successful practice focusing on real estate transactions; collection matters such as garnishments, replevins and deficiency judgments; and criminal defense. Since entering private practice, he has been appointed as a special prosecutor for felony cases in both Forrest and Perry counties as well as defense appointments to represent defendants charged with crimes ranging from drug possession and assault to criminal street gang activity. Such legal diversity thereby gives Zach a well-rounded knowledge of both the criminal and civil aspects of law.
In January 2018, Zach was the first to qualify for the special election of Justice Court judge of Forrest County Division 2, which is primarily a Petal district. There were four other candidates, but on November 27, 2018, Zach was elected as judge. Because it was a special election, Zach knew he would have to run again for a full four-year term in 2019. He was again the first to qualify and is seeking re-election on the Republican ticket. Aside from serving as your Justice Court judge, Zach is also the judge pro tem of the Petal Municipal Court.
Zach resides in Petal with his wife Jessica, who is the founder of Vaughn Law Firm. They have two children, Jackson, 10, and Katherine, 8, and the family attends Petal Presbyterian Church. Zach is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys hunting, fishing, and competitive sport shooting and is a Life Benefactor Member of the National Rifle Association. He also enjoys competitive BBQ, where he occasionally competes and regularly judges. He enjoys traveling, the outdoors, and visiting historic places.
Justice Courts have jurisdiction over small claims civil cases involving amounts of $3,500 or less, misdemeanor criminal cases and any traffic offense that occurs outside a municipality. Justice Court judges may conduct bond hearings and preliminary hearings in felony criminal cases and may issue search warrants.
There are 82 Justice Courts with 197 judges. Justice Court judges are the only Mississippi judges elected in partisan races. They serve four-year terms.
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