Judge Pickering in Meridian

Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Charles Pickering, Sr., was in Meridian Monday. He was the guest speaker for Meridian Rotary Club.

During the speech one of the obvious topics was the controversy leading up to Judge Pickering's ultimate appointment to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. It was a controversy that gained a great deal of national attention.

It all began when the Senate Judiciary Committee blocked Pickering's appointment for two years, calling him "racially insensitive." This was a claim that stemmed from a 1994 ruling Pickering made in a cross burning case in Tylertown. Pickering denies he has practiced racial insensitivity.

"If the naysayers had looked at that case, I sentenced that young man to 50 percent more time than Janet Reno's Justice Department thought was the appropriate sentence," said Pickering.

In January of this year, while Congress was not in session, President Bush made a recess appointment for Pickering to assume the post. Because his recess appointment will officially end when Congress convenes in January, for personal reasons, Pickering says he plans to retire before the Senate's current session wraps up. He says that could happen as early as the end of next month.

Meanwhile, as for his future, "If the President wants to make an appointment in January, we would evaluate it at that time," said Pickering. "I would not want to go back through what I've gone through before just for the sake of going through another fight. If there was some confirmation, certainly I would like to be confirmed."