Q May a justice court judge serve as any of the following: full-time waste water operator for a municipality, mid-level supervisory position directing the operations of 2 to 3 municipal waste water employees, independent consultant to public works?

A The justice court judge may serve as either a full-time waste water operator or consultant to public works but not in a supervisory position. The Mississippi Supreme Court found in Dye v. State, 507 So. 2s 332 (Miss. 1987), that no officer of one department may perform a function at the core of power properly belonging to any of the other two departments. A justice court judge operates at the core of the judicial department (branch). A full time waste water operator does not exercise core powers. Directing the actions of employees crosses the line into exercising core powers, so the judge cannot serve in a supervisory position. Pursuant to the “home rule” statute, Section 21-17-5, the municipal governing authorities may contract with the judge to be a consultant, provided that the governing authorities find, consistent with the facts, that such services are reasonable, necessary, and in the best interest of the municipality and further provided that such terms conditions and duties of such consultant do not allow the exercise of “core powers.” (Attorney General’s Opinion to Perkins, July 31, 2015)