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County prosecutor’s office may be filled with a special election

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(photo by David Day)

Warren County may be holding a special election soon to fill the seat of county prosecutor.

On Sept. 14, Ken Harper, who had been in the office less than a year, sent a resignation letter to the Warren County Board of Supervisors, effective immediately. Four days later, Harper reversed his position, and asked to be reinstated.

“I acted in haste,” Harper said at the time. “I’ve had some conversations with some people I should have had before I took the action I did. If I had, the whole episode wouldn’t have happened. It was just basically my fault. I should have talked to some people before I did it instead of after.”

In response, supervisors and the county election commission reached out to the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office for a legal opinion on whether Harper could resume his post. That opinion was issued Tuesday, Dec. 8.

Specifically, the board asked the AG to provide an opinion on four questions:

  1. Harper’s status as an elected county public official given the circumstances
  2. Whether the office of county prosecutor is vacant, and whether Harper can withdraw his resignation
  3. Whether the board can choose to accept the withdrawal of resignation
  4. Does it matter if the resignation is submitted to the board of supervisors and not the governor?

The AG’s office declined to provide an opinion on the first two questions.

“Our office has previously held that a resignation becomes effective upon the date specified in the resignation,” the opinion stated, “and that one may withdraw his resignation up until the stated effective date.”

The opinion went on to say that the board does not need to accept the withdrawal of resignation, and that there is no requirement to inform the governor of a resignation.

Supervisors will take up the matter in their next scheduled meeting, Monday, Dec. 14.

Read the attorney general’s opinion

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