Richie resigns as JP
District 3 Justice of the Peace Lamont Richie resigned from the Carroll County Quorum Court on Tuesday.
Richie, a Democrat from Eureka Springs who was serving his fourth term as a JP, submitted his resignation in a letter to Carroll County Judge Sam Barr and the 10 other JPs.
In his letter, Richie referred to Carroll County Sheriff Randy Mayfield’s use of a homophobic slur to describe Richie.
During a meeting with two staff members on Oct. 2 at the sheriff’s office, Mayfield referred to Richie using the phrase “his f****t a**.”
After word of the comments reached Richie, he exchanged text messages with Mayfield, who denied using a homophobic slur.
On Oct. 22, Carroll County Newspapers obtained a video recording from a security camera outside the meeting room. On the recording, Mayfield can be heard clearly making the comments about Richie.
Mayfield issued an apology the same day the video recording was released, saying he used the slur during a “momentary loss of professionalism.”
Richie, who is gay, referred to Mayfield’s explanation in the opening paragraph of his resignation letter.
“Since the ‘momentary lapse’ (that lasted from October 6 until October 22 and likely would have continued had it not been for ‘the recording’) following the Sheriff’s homophobic slur, many people, including Lt. Mark Bailey, Maj. George Frye and Lt. Jerry Williams from the CCSO, have reached out to me privately disavowing and condemning the mindset that resulted in one person calling another ‘f****t,’ ” Richie writes. “Friends have expressed horror and dismay. My appreciation has been heart-felt.
“It certainly wasn’t the first time that homophobia has surfaced, but it was the first time it’s been directed at me; and to have it happen in Carroll County by our highest elected law enforcement officer made a bad situation worse.
“Yet, to my knowledge, there has been nothing officially said since this happened to assure the many LGBTQ people living in Carroll County that it won’t happen to anyone else? That has been disappointing — all of you have to realize that not all in the LGBTQ community live in Eureka Springs!”
Richie called on officials to address the issue.
“You may not be able to regulate private enterprise but you certainly have the power to address what happens in the public arena and to speak to it publicly,” he writes. “Too often, myself included, have remained silent in the face of inappropriate conduct — conduct as egregious as this or even political decisions that are just not in the best interests of the citizens — because we do not want to get involved or we are worried about the consequences. By not speaking out, we then become complicit.
“I guess I could say this was the straw that broke the camel’s back because it truly has taken the steam out of me. As a result, I am unable to remain in office until my term would otherwise expire on December 31.
“I am proud to have represented the citizens of Eureka Springs and those in the county who are included in this district.
“I resign as Justice of the Peace for District 3, effective immediately.”
The quorum court held a special meeting Tuesday to approve an ordinance appropriating funds to replace three heating units at the county detention center.
During the portion of the meeting reserved for JPs’ comments, District 1 JP Jack Deaton discussed Richie’s resignation.
“We talk about replacing somebody,” Deaton said. “I’ve worked close with him for several years on budget and finance and you can’t replace him.”
In response to a question from Deaton, Prosecuting Attorney Tony Rogers told the quorum court they will have to adopt a resolution declaring a vacancy on the court. The governor will then appoint someone to serve out the remainder of Richie’s term.
During his closing comments, Barr described Richie’s resignation as “very heartbreaking.”
“Lamont’s been a model JP,” Barr said. “We will miss him dearly, as a friend and also his advice.”