Mississippi judge ambushed outside courthouse says he’s ready to work again

Published 9:58 pm Thursday, May 14, 2020

Nearly two months after he was shot outside the Lauderdale County Courthouse, Chancery Court Judge Charles Smith is eager to return to the bench, according to a news release from the Administrative Office of Courts.

Smith is chancellor of the 12th Chancery Court District, which includes Lauderdale and Clarke counties.

He was shot on March 16 after he got out of his truck, Meridian police said.

“I am hoping that in a couple of weeks, the doctors will say that I’m ready to go back to work because I’m ready,” Smith said in a statement.

The judge has undergone multiple surgeries and still doesn’t have use of his left leg, but he hopes to recover mobility with continued healing and physical therapy, the release said.

Smith credited nearby deputies and medical workers with saving his life.

“I am so blessed,” Smith said in the statement. “Just by the grace of God I’m here. I think He put the right people in the right place at the right time or I wouldn’t be here … It’s a miracle. All I can say is God just said it wasn’t my time.”

No arrests have been made, but Meridian police previously said the shooting was “personal.”

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is leading the investigation.

According to the release, Smith did not see or hear the shooter and investigators have reviewed case files from Smith’s time as a judge, attorney and prosecutor.

“When you look back at it, there are a lot more people who might be mad about how a case turned out,” Smith said in the release.

The East Mississippi Crimestoppers program is offering up to $32,000 in rewards to anyone with information that would lead to an arrest in the shooting, said Chief Deputy Ward Calhoun with the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department.

Anyone with information can call the Crimestoppers tip line at 855-485-8477 or visit the East Mississippi Crimestoppers Facebook page or website at www.eastms.crimestoppersweb.com.