Hooper seeks Chief Magistrate post
Apr 23, 2014 | 745 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dwayne Hooper, former Murray County Magistrate Judge for 22 years, is seeking the Chief Magistrate Judge post for a second time. Hooper made a bid for the position against former Chief Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran in 2012. Cochran won reelection then resigned shortly after amid allegations of sexual harassment, which he denied. Cochran admitted to the presigning of warrants upon his resignation. He is still the subject on ongoing investigation by federal and state authorities.

Hooper, 54, is a lifelong resident of Murray County. He is married to Tracy and the couple has four children. Two in college, one attends Bagley Middle School and one attends Woodlawn Elementary School. Hooper and his wife for foster parents for about five years.

Hooper is a graduate of Murray County High School and for the majority of his life has been in the building industry as a building contractor and continued that when he served as a part time mahistrate judge.

“The main thing that makes me qualified for the office is my 22 years of experience,” Hooper said. “During that time I accumulated almost 500 hours of...training. The main reason that I am running is for the people. I’ve always had a desire and I was in that office long enough to see so many people that had been treated wrong, and that was my biggest joy...making things right for people. ‘You’ve been done wrong and I want to see you treated rightly or fairly. And that’s my goal for everyone, to be fair and impartial no matter what or who and that’s why I’m running.

“I feel that it is very important that the people have an opportunity to choose. Until I qualified we didn’t really have a choice, it was Ms. (Gale) Buckner or nobody. Nobody else qualified. And I feel it’s important when somebody is holding an elected position, they need to have the favor of the people. It’s the same thing going on with superior court. We’ll all be better off in the long run...if it’s the people’s choice that candidate is going to do a better job.”

Hooper agreed that he was fighting an uphill battle with the public opinion of Cochran’s court.

“For starters, I was part time,” Hooper said. “I had nothing to do with the day to day ioperations of the court and didn’t have the authority if I had wanted to do anything about it. That’s exactly why I ran the last time. I was trying and it was hard to get it across last time, he was so liked... that’s what I was trying to do two years ago because I knew the job wasn’t being done correctly and I was the only that tried to anything. Of course, not everyone knew what I knew... he was the one that assigned the cases. He decided whether I was there or not. How far can you go with that? And as soon as I came out against him, he didn’t need me any more of course. And I knew it would be that way and I was fine with that...

“But I was trying to do what was right at that time. The bottom line is, regardless of the operation of the court and how the money is being disbursed and all that, it’s the sole responsibility of the Chief Magistrate. The associate judges...were assigned cases. And on our court day we would come in and we would hear those cases and we worked after hours, weekends, and issued warrants for the sheriff’s department. That was our sole duties.the only reasons I was familiar with the operations of the court was hearing conversation. I was asked my opinion a few times on different things, from Judge Cochran or whoever, but that’s about it.

“I didn’t any authority, even when he left. I was never appointed Chief Magistrate, even temporary...until I could have been appointed I had no authority to do anything.”

Hooper said he was asked by County Manager Tommy Parker to work after Cochran resigned. Hooper said he and associate judge Chris Fowler were busy just trying to handle the caseload with a full time judge short.

Hooper commented on the more than $300,000 discovered in the account by Buckner.

“I am going by what I’ve been told,” Hooper said.”The court was established in 1984 and I truly believe that that money has been growing from that date. Now Ms. Buckner talks about a day to day balance. We did that. Every day, from the cases that came in, every dime of that money should have somewhere to go...that money had to be accounted for out of the cash drawers...there was nothing done that was (deceiving) in any way...”

Hooper said many people receive certified letters from the court and don’t open the letter. Some people who may have had money coming to them did not collect.

“For some reason it increased more,” said Hooper. “I didn’t look at the checkbook...I didn’t handle the money...the money wasn’t distributed...it should been given to the county in small increments...I think that’s what happened.”

Hooper said he does believe that some funds were not distributed as they should have been.

“I stand for what’s right, the truth,” Hooper said. “Wherever it goes. I want the truth and that’s what I’m running on. That’s just the way I live my life.”

“A better question would be why wouldn’t I run,” Hooper said. “I’ve been there. I’ve got a lot invested. It’s been my life’s work. I was the only one that qualified for the job before...I was the only one that tried to stand up against him...and it’s important for the people to decide.”