DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - The judge has stepped down. So has the prosecutor. The court hearing for Southaven Mayor Greg Davis' traffic misdemeanors was postponed after both men wanted to avoid conflicts of interest.
Both the judge and county prosecutor know Davis well and said to avoid appearing biased they would step down.
The judge gave Davis and the bus driver filing charges against him the choice. Both agreed to have someone else hear the case.
"The mayor's been instructed not to make any statements," says Steve Farese, Davis' lawyer, as they left court Wednesday afternoon.
But Davis spoke inside the courtroom, asking Judge Billy Lantrip to recuse himself and have a judge from a different county preside.
"He thought because of all the publicity that's been swirling around him it would probably be in the judge's best interest," Farese tells abc24.com.
Lantrip told Davis and bus driver Tracey Riva, he had a long history with the mayor's family.
"He knew the mayor since his childhood. He wanted to make sure it was an even playing field for everyone," Farese says. The lawyer believes the decision will be best for everyone.
"If the mayor is found not guilty, some out there would be saying 'Oh it was a fix. He was friends with the judge, friends with the prosecutor.' There are always naysayers out there," says Farese. "This is to prevent any appearance of impropriety."
Davis is charged with passing a stopped school bus and using flashing blue lights on his personal car. The mayor says he passed the bus to pull over another driver who broke the law.
Wednesday Davis pled not guilty to both charges.
Farese says the hearing delay shouldn't be a long one. "I think the distraction helps no one. It's a traffic case. I think it should be able to be handled rather quickly," he says.
Farese will file a motion this week asking for another judge. Once that's processed, a new hearing date will be set.
We tried talking with the bus driver, but the court allowed her to leave through the back door, avoiding our cameras.