Quarles sworn in as youth court judge

Lydia Quarles (right) is sworn in as youth court judge by Chancery Court Judge Paula Drungole-Ellis on Wednesday afternoon at the Oktibbeha County Courthouse. Quarles’ husband, Jim Mozingo (left) was in attendance. (Photo by Brittany Greer, SDN)

Staff Writer

Longtime Starkville attorney Lydia Quarles was sworn in as Oktibbeha County Youth Court judge on Wednesday afternoon by Chancery Judge Paula Drungole-Ellis, who previously held the position. 

Quarles was selected by Drungole-Ellis to serve in the position after she was sworn in as Chancery Court judge on Jan. 1. 

Quarles previously served as youth court prosecutor for the past 18 months in Oktibbeha County and four years in Clay County. 

“I’m very humbled by Judge Drungole-Ellis’ confidence in me. I hope that me and my team can do a good job,” Quarles said.

Quarles explained the dynamics of the youth court, saying it is private and made up of a youth court prosecutor, with three areas that report to them. 

“We have child protective services, which is for the abused and neglected children. We have truancy, which is for children who don’t go to school. And youth services is the delinquent part of youth court. The police arrest a youth and a child protective service officer does an intake and makes a recommendation,” Quarles said. 

“I think sometimes we feel very frustrated because we see some recidivism in youth court. I’m hoping that we can reach out to some community members and maybe get some alternative services that kids can do. Now, all we do is fine them, and the parents pay their fines. The kids aren’t intimately touched by the fact they did something.”

“I hope we can set up a network where we can have some mentor programs and also some programs where youth can work off their fine,” Quarles said. 

Drungole-Ellis said she is confident in Quarles as youth court judge. 

“She has served under me for the last couple of years as the prosecutor, so she is familiar with youth court. And she has previous experience as a judge with the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission,” said Drungole-Ellis. 

“We have a great working relationship. She understands the purpose of what we do for children who are neglected and abused and those who are delinquent. She understands what it takes to encourage those children to be the best that they can be. I think she will do an outstanding job,” Drungole-Ellis said. “I will continue to oversee this court, so she will have me as a resource.”

Quarles is a graduate of National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada. She is also a graduate of History of Workers’ Compensation Curriculum at University of New Brunswick in Canada. 

Additionally, Quarles is a senior policy analyst at the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University, joining the Stennis Institute in 2006, following 13 years of service to the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission, including five years as the commissioner of the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission and eight years as an administrative judge. 

Prior to her work with the MWCC, she spent more than a dozen years in the private practice of law in Alabama and Mississippi.

She is married to Starkville attorney Jim Mozingo. They have one child, Ashley Perrin, and a new grandson, Mack Perrin. Quarles attends Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Starkville. 

Quarles’ first court date is Jan. 25.