Profiles of Former Justices and Judges


Fred L. Banks, Jr.   "Chuck" Easley   D. Rook Moore, III   "Jim" W. Smith, Jr.

"Jim" Brantley

  James. E. Graves Jr.   William H. "Bill" Myers   Leslie H. Southwick
Billy Bridges  

Roger H. McMillin, Jr.

  Mary Libby Payne   Michael D. Sullivan

Kay B. Cobb

 

"Chuck" McRae

  Edwin Lloyd Pittman   James E. Thomas

Oliver E. Diaz, Jr.

  Michael P. Mills   Lenore L. Prather    

 

Justices / Judges


Fred L. Banks, Jr.

Presiding Justice Fred L. Banks, Jr. was born in Jackson, Mississippi, September 1, 1942, the son of the late F.L. Banks, Sr. and Violet Mabery Banks. After graduating from Lanier High School in Jackson in 1960, he attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he received his undergraduate degree in Business Administration and graduated Cum Laude from law school, second in his class, in 1968.

 

After admission to the Mississippi Bar, he began a private practice in Jackson, initially serving with other lawyers in his office as local counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. That office evolved into the firm "Anderson, Banks, Nichols and Leventhal". In 1975, he was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives and was twice re-elected. During his tenure, he served as Chairman of the House Ethics Committee, Chairman of the House Judiciary "B" Committee and Chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus. From 1979 until 1981, Presiding Justice Banks served as a member of the Mississippi Board of Bar Admissions. In February 1985, he was appointed Judge of the Seventh Circuit Court District (Hinds and Yazoo Counties). He was twice unopposed for re-election to this position. In January 1991, Governor Ray Mabus appointed Presiding Justice Banks to fill an unexpired term on the Mississippi Supreme Court. He was elected to serve the remainder of that term in November 1991 and re-elected to serve a full term in November 1996.

 

Presiding Justice Banks serves on the National Board of Directors of the NAACP, the Board of Visitors at Mississippi College School of Law, where he is an adjunct professor of law, and on the board of directors of the Greater Jackson Community Foundation. He is member of the American Law Institute, a Fellow in the Mississipppi Bar Foundation, a member and former president of American Inns of Court, Charles Clark Inn, and the Mississippi, Hinds County, Magnolia, National, American, and District of Columbia Bar Associations. Presiding Justice Banks is a member of Sigma Pi Phi fraternity.

 

Information from the Mississippi Supreme Court Web site: December 15, 2000


James Palmer "Jim" Brantley

 

Judge James Palmer (Jim) Brantley, a native of Walnut Grove, graduated from Walnut Grove High School in 1956. He was a member of the United States Air Force from 1956-1960. In August 1962, he completed his B.S. Degree in Business Administration with a Minor in Accounting from Mississippi State University. He received his J.D. Degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1970.

 

Following law school, Judge Brantley was in private practice and worked for the Mississippi State Senate in its legislative service committee performing research and drafting legislation. From1975 through 1983, he served as General Counsel for the State Department of Mental Health. In 1983, he joined the firm of Snow and Brantley and from 1986 to present, he was senior and managing partner with the firm of Brantley and Knowles. Judge Brantley is also certified as a Mediator/Arbitrator by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

 

Judge Brantley was past president of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association from 1992-1993 and is a member of the Mississippi State Bar, Hinds County Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association and numerous others.

 

Judge Brantley is married and is the father of two children.

 

Information from the Mississippi Supreme Court Web site: August 27, 2002.


Billy G. Bridges

 

Judge Billy G. Bridges of Brandon practiced law in Rankin County for thirty-three years. He graduated from Pearl High School in 1952. He then attended Hinds Community College before going to the University of Mississippi where he earned a BBA degree in 1958. Judge Bridges pursued his study of law at the University of Mississippi School of Law and was awarded an LLB degree in 1961 and a J.D. in 1968.

 

Judge Bridges has served in a wide range of legal positions including Board Attorney for the Town of Florence, the Town of Pelahatchie, the Rankin Medical Center, and the Rankin County School Board. He has also been Rankin County Prosecuting Attorney, District Attorney for the 20th Circuit District, and Chancellor for the Twentieth Chancery Court District. Judge Bridges served as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals from January 31, 1997, until February 17, 1999.

 

Judge Bridges has held membership in a number of prestigious legal organizations including: Who's Who of American Judges, Conference of Mississippi Trial Judges, American College of Trial Judges, Mississippi Bar Foundation, Mississippi Municipal Attorneys Association, American Society of Hospital Board Associations, Mississippi Hospital Board Attorneys, and the Mississippi Continuing Judicial Education Committee.

 

Judge Bridges is married and has four children. He is a member of Crossgates Baptist Church in Brandon and is affiliated with Gideons International.

 

Information from the Mississippi Supreme Court Web site: October 1, 2003.


George Clarence Carlson, Jr.

 

Presiding Justice George Clarence Carlson, Jr. of Batesville was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove on Oct. 29, 2001, to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Justice Michael P. Mills. Justice Carlson took office Nov. 1, 2001, and served the remainder of the unexpired term. On Nov. 2, 2004, Justice Carlson was elected to serve an eight-year term. The term began Jan. 3, 2005, and will expire on Jan. 6, 2013. On Jan. 5, 2009, Justice Carlson became a Presiding Justice for the Court. 

 

From June 1972, through Dec. 31, 1982, Justice Carlson was in the private practice of law. In November 1982, he was elected Circuit Judge for the Seventeenth Judicial District of Mississippi, comprised of DeSoto, Panola, Tallahatchie, Tate, and Yalobusha counties, and took office on Jan. 1, 1983. He was reelected as Circuit Judge without opposition in 1989, 1990, 1994, and 1998.

 

Justice Carlson served as a member on the Governor's Criminal Justice Task Force in 1991, and as a member of the Commission on the Courts in the 21st Century, 1992-1993. He served as a member of the Professionalism Committee of the Mississippi Bar, 1998-1999, and as a member of the Law School Professionalism Program Task Force, 1998-1999. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the American Judges Association, the Mississippi Bar, and the Lamar Order, University of Mississippi School of Law. Justice Carlson is a member and past president of the Panola County Bar Association, and a member and past president of the William C. Keady American Inns of Court. He was invited and named in February 1995 as a Fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation. Justice Carlson served as vice-chair of the Mississippi Circuit Judges Conference in 1998-1999, and chair of the Conference in 1999-2000. Since arriving at the Supreme Court, Justice Carlson has continuously served on the Court’s Rules Committee. Justice Carlson is a recipient of the 2003 Chief Justice Award for his work on the Rules Committee. On Jan. 5, 2009, Justice Carlson became the Chair of the Court’s newly created Rules Committee on Practice and Procedure. Justice Carlson also serves as Chair of the Mississippi Model Jury Instructions Commission, which is charged with conducting a comprehensive examination of jury instructions being used in state courts and recommending to the Supreme Court revised and simplified civil and criminal jury instructions. 

 

Justice Carlson was honored twice as the recipient of the Chief Justice Award, in 2003 and again in 2012. He was the recipient of Mississippi State University’s Distinguished Jurist Award for 2012.
The son of the late Christine Wooley Carlson and the late Dr. George C. Carlson, Justice Carlson was born on May 23, 1946, in Greenwood, Leflore County, Mississippi. Six months after his birth, he moved with his family from Moorhead, in Sunflower County, to Batesville. 

 

He is a 1964 graduate of South Panola High School in Batesville; a 1969 graduate of Mississippi State University (Bachelor of Science Degree); and a 1972 graduate of the University of Mississippi (Law Degree). Justice Carlson also graduated from the National Judicial College, University of Nevada, Reno, in October 1982. 
Justice Carlson is married to the former Jane Ivy Russel of Cleveland, Bolivar County, Mississippi, daughter of the late Mary Augusta Russel and the late Dr. John C. Russel. Justice and Mrs. Carlson have two adult children, Russel Carlson and Meredith Carlson Fleming, and three grandchildren. 
Justice Carlson is an Elder in the Batesville Presbyterian Church.


 


Kay B. Cobb

 

Presiding Justice Kay Beevers Cobb was appointed to the Mississippi Supreme Court on April 1, 1999. Prior to her appointment to the bench, Justice Cobb served the people of Mississippi as State Senator, Special Assistant Attorney General, and Attorney for the Bureau of Narcotics and director of the Mississippi Prosecutors Association. In 2000, she was elected to the Supreme Court for an eight-year term beginning January 2001. Effective April 1, 2004, she assumed the position of Presiding Justice.

 

A native Mississippian, Justice Cobb was born in Quitman County on February 28, 1942, and reared in Cleveland, Mississippi. For the past twenty-nine years, she and her husband, Larry, have lived in Oxford, Mississippi. The Cobbs are the parents of two daughters, Barbara and Elizabeth, and have five grandchildren.

 

Justice Cobb graduated from Cleveland High School as valedictorian of her class. She graduated in 1963 from the Mississippi University for Women where she was class president, and a member of the Hall of Fame and Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges. After graduating from Mississippi University for Women, Justice Cobb taught school until the birth of her children.

 

In 1975, she enrolled in the University of Mississippi School of Law and graduated 13th in her class in January1978. While in law school, she was a member of the National Moot Court team which won the Southern Regional competition. She served on the Moot Court board, was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Space Law, was a member of the Law School Senate and president of Phi Delta Phi. She was also the recipient of Phi Alpha Delta and Phi Delta Phi scholarship awards.

 

Justice Cobb practiced law in Oxford for several years before taking the post of director of the Mississippi Prosecutors programs at the University of Mississippi Law School. In 1984 she began service as the attorney for the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, and in 1988 she joined the staff of the Attorney General, where among other duties she served as coordinator of the SWEEPS (Statewide Education, Enforcement, Prevention System) anti-drug program.

 

In 1992, she was elected to the Mississippi Senate, representing Calhoun, Lafayette and Yalobusha Counties. In 1996, she returned to private law practice in Oxford, where she remained until her appointment to the Supreme Court in 1999.

             
Justice Cobb has served in many civic capacities, including president of the Mississippi University for Women Alumnae Board and chairman of the Inter-Alumni Council for the State Institutions of Higher Learning. She was awarded the Mississippi State University Outstanding Mississippi Woman award in 1992 and the Mississippi University for Women Medal of Excellence in 1990. She has served on the President’s Commission on United States’ Model State Drug Laws and the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws. Her latest award is the 2003 Chief Justice award presented at the Annual Meeting of the Mississippi Bar, for her work in revising the Mississippi Rules of Court.

 

Justice Cobb is an active member of the First Baptist Church of Oxford, where she is a Sunday School teacher.

 

Information from the Supreme Court Web site: December 13, 2006.


Oliver E. Diaz, Jr.

 

Presiding Justice Oliver E. Diaz, Jr. graduated from Notre Dame High School in 1977, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Alabama in 1982. After graduation from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1985, he practiced law on the Gulf Coast.


Justice Diaz served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from District 116 representing Biloxi and D'Iberville for seven years from 1988 to 1994. During his tenure in the Legislature, he was a subcommittee Chairman for the Insurance Committee and for the Judiciary Committee. He was on the Ways and Means Committee and was Secretary for the Constitution Committee. He also served as City Attorney for the City of D'Iberville for four years.


Justice Diaz was elected to the Court of Appeals in November 1994 and served in that position until March 2000, at which time he was appointed to the Supreme Court by Governor Ronnie Musgrove. In 2000, he was elected to the Supreme Court for an eight year term beginning January 2001.


Justice Diaz is married to the former Jennifer Oestreich and is the father of two children.

 

Information from the Mississippi Supreme Court Web site: July 4, 2007


Charles "Chuck" Easley

 

Justice Easley is the son of Charles D. Easley, Sr., Lieutenant Colonel, United States Air Force (Retired) and Doris B. Easley, a retired teacher of Special Education, who reside in Chickasaw County, Mississippi.


He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1972 with a Bachelor of Business Administration, Mississippi State University in 1976 with a Master’s of Business Administration, University of Mississippi in 1979 with a Juris Doctorate, and from the National District Attorneys College - Career Prosecutor’s Course, Houston, Texas in 1980. Also, he is a graduate of the American Academy of Judicial Education: The Judge as Fact Finder & Decision Maker.


Justice Easley is married, and they have three children and one grand-daughter. Justice and Mrs. Easley reside in Lowndes County, Mississippi, and they are members of the Kolola Springs Baptist Church. Justice and Mrs. Easley raise goats and donkeys. Also, Justice Easley owns and operates a tree farm. Before becoming a lawyer, Justice Easley was a farmer and cattleman in Houlka, Mississippi.


Justice Easley has served as an Assistant District Attorney for the Third Judicial Court District from 1980- 1983, Prosecutor of the Town of Caledonia, and Judge of the Town of Caledonia. He practiced law in Columbus, Mississippi, from 1983-2000.


He is a member of the Mississippi Bar Association, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the Lowndes County Bar Association, the American Bar Association (ABA), lifetime member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), Mason, Shriner, York Rite, Scottish Rite, the National Geographic Society, Audubon Society, and American Judges Association. He is a former member of Mississippi Municipal Judge’s Association and Mississippi Prosecutor’s Association. Justice Easley is a blood donor.


Justice Easley now serves on the Mississippi Supreme Court Security Committee, the Mississippi Supreme Court Library Committee, the Mississippi Supreme Court Human Resources Committee and as Chairman of the Mississippi Continuing Judicial Education Committee. He formerly served on the Board of Directors of the following organizations: Big Brothers and Big Sisters, American Cancer Society, and Mississippi Prosecutor’s Association. Justice Easley teaches courses on ethics for both judges and attorneys.

 

Information from the Supreme Court Web site: December 13, 2006


Roger H. McMillin, Jr.

 

Judge Roger H. McMillin, a native of New Albany, graduated from New Albany High School in 1963. He completed his undergraduate studies at Mississippi State University where he received a B.A. degree in 1967. That same year, he attended Naval Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as an Ensign. Following a two-year tour of duty as a Communications Officer, he enrolled in the Memphis State University Law School under the G.I. Bill. Judge McMillin received his J.D. from Memphis State in 1972.

 

Following law school, he worked the U.S.D.A.'s Office of General Counsel, primarily in Atlanta, and for the year 1976, he was an associate with the Jackson law firm of Scott, Barbour and Scott. In 1977, Judge McMillin returned to New Albany and entered private practice. He became a member of the firm of Sumners, Carter and McMillin in 1983. He served as City Attorney for New Albany from 1982 through 1994.

 

Judge McMillin served as Bar Commissioner for the Third Circuit District from 1986 to 1989. He has twice been President of the Union County Development Association, and in 1990, was named Industrial Development Volunteer Laureate by the Governor. He has been President of the New Albany Rotary Club, chairman of fund drives for his local Boy Scouts and Cancer Society, and served a term as President of the Union County Library Board. Judge McMillin was appointed Chief Judge by Chief Justice Prather of the Mississippi Supreme Court on February 17, 1999, to serve until January 5, 2003. He is a former Elder and Congregational Chairman of the Cleveland Street Presbyterian Church.

 

Judge McMillin is married to the former Frankie Robbins of New Albany. They have five children and three grandchildren.

 

Information from the Mississippi Supreme Court Web site February 11, 2002


C.R. "Chuck" McRae

 

Justice Chuck McRae is the son of the late Ophra Whitmer and Marion Edward McRae. He grew up in Pascagoula, Mississippi, but graduated from high school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


He graduated from Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio, in 1962. Upon graduation, he taught and coached in high schools at Moss Point, Mississippi, and Panama City, Florida.


Justice McRae graduated cum laude in 1970 from Jackson School of Law, now The Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson, Mississippi. He returned to Pascagoula to practice law and later established a firm with Margaret Ellis. He has sat on both the Circuit and Chancery Court Benches, and, by special appointment, in Jackson, Forrest, Lamar and Lincoln Counties. Prior to his election to the Mississippi Supreme Court in November, 1990, he served as attorney for the Jackson County School Board and the Pascagoula Police Association.


Justice McRae is a lifetime member of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association, and has served both as Governor and President. A former governor for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, he remains a sustaining member. He is a former Bar Commissioner of the Mississippi Bar. Justice McRae is a member of the Civil Justice Foundation, Roscoe Pound Foundation, M Club, Marietta College Athletic Founders Board, American Judicature Society, Fifth and Eleventh Circuit Bar Associations, Federal Bar Association, Magnolia Bar Association, American Bar Association and First United Methodist Church, Pascagoula.


Justice McRae has one daughter, Rebecca McRae Johnson, and a grandson, Jaqe.


CHARLES ROBERT McRAE
912 Westwood
Pascagoula, Mississippi 39567
(601) 762-8695


PROFESSIONAL
EXPERIENCE:

Mississippi Supreme Court Justice
January 1, 1991 to Present
Law Practice, Pascagoula, MS
Trial Attorney 1970-1990
Sole Practitioner and
Managing Partner McRae & Ellis Law Firm
Appointed Special Chancellor and Circuit Court Judge, Jackson, Forrest and Lincoln Counties, Mississippi, during 1990
Attorney for Jackson County School Board
Attorney for Pascagoula Police Association

EDUCATION:

Mississippi College School of Law (Jackson School of Law), 1970 Juris Doctorate Degree Cum Laude
Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio
Bachelor of Arts, 1962
Concentration: English, Speech

PROFESSIONAL
AFFILIATIONS:

American Trial Lawyers' Association, Sustaining Member
Mississippi Trial Lawyers' Association, Life Member, Past President, Past Governor


Member:

 
Civil Justice Foundation
Roscoe Pound Foundation
American Judicature Society
Fifth and Eleventh Circuit Bar Associations
Federal Bar Association
Magnolia Bar Association
American Bar Association
M-Club, Marietta College
First United Methodist Church, Pascagoula, Mississippi

 

Information from the Mississippi Supreme Court Web site: February 12, 2003


Michael P. Mills


Justice Michael P. Mills is a seventh-generation native of Itawamba County. Justice Mills graduated from Itawamba Agricultural High School in 1974, after attending primary and seconday schools in Tishomingo, Iuka and Fulton. He attended Itawamba Community College and graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1978 with a bachelor's degree. He received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi Law School in 1980.


Justice Mills practiced law in Monroe and Itawamba counties until 1995 when he was appointed to the Mississippi Supreme Court to fill the unexpired term of Chief Justice Armis E. Hawkins. He has practiced before the United States Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and all Mississippi state and federal courts.


Justice Mills served twelve years in the Mississippi Legislature. He held the positions of Chairman of the Judiciary "A" and Judiciary En Banc committees. He is a Commissioner on the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and is a member of the Mississippi Bar and the Federalist Society. He is a member of the Scottish Rite.


Justice Mills is married to the former Mona Robinson. They have four children: Alysson, Chip, Rebekah and Penn.


Information from the Mississippi Supreme Court Web site: December 15, 2000.


D. Rook Moore, III

 

Judge D. Rook Moore, III has been engaged in the general practice of law in Holly Springs since 1968. A native of Byhalia, he graduated from Byhalia High School in 1959. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Mississippi with a B.S. degree in 1963 and earned his J.D. from the University of Mississippi School of Law and was admitted to the Bar in 1966.

 

He was elected County Attorney of Marshall County in 1968 and served in that capacity for 8 years. He served as Board Attorney for the City of Holly Springs, the Town of Byhalia, the Town of Potts Camp, Marshall County Hospital, Marshall County School District, and was general counsel for Bank of Holly Springs and Citizens Bank.

 

He served as Municipal Judge for the Town of Byhalia and the City of Holly Springs, Marshall County Youth Court Judge and Master in Chancery.

 

He has been President of the Holly Springs Rotary Club, a member of Byhalia Lions Club, and is a Deacon at First Presbyterian Church in Holly Springs.

 

Judge Moore is married to the former Marie Sigman of Holly Springs. He and Marie are the parents of one son, the late Dudley Rook Moore, IV, and two daughters, Marie Austin Moore of Alexandria, Virginia and Susanna Thornton Moore.

 

Information from the Mississippi Supreme Court Web site: June 11, 2000.


William H. "Bill" Myers

 

Judge Myers graduated from Murrah High School, Jackson, Mississippi, in 1960. He graduated from Mississippi State University and received a J. D. from the University of Mississippi School of Law. From 1964 to 1966 he served in the United States Army, where he received the Army Commendation Medal and was honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant.

 

He practiced law in Pascagoula for 23 years in association with Rex Gordon, Sr. Judge Myers has served as Chancellor for the Sixteenth Chancery Court District since 1992. He has served as Secretary, Vice-Chairman, and Chairman of the Chancery Judges Conference.

 

Judge Myers has served as a Board Member and President of the Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA. He is a member of the American Legion and the Masons. Ocean Springs named him outstanding citizen in 1981. He is a fifth generation Mississippian. Judge Myers is married and the father of three children. He is a Methodist.

 

Information from the Mississippi Supreme Court Web site: January 31, 2012.


Mary Libby Payne

 

Prior to her election, Judge Mary Libby Payne was a Professor of Law and a former Dean of the Mississippi College School of Law. She had been associated with the school since 1975.

 

Judge Payne did her undergraduate work at Mississippi University for Women and the University of Mississippi where she graduated with distinction with a B.A. in Political Science. She has a J.D. from the University of Mississippi School of Law where she graduated first in her class.

 

Judge Payne was involved in private practice in Jackson and Brandon before entering public service. She served all three branches of state government. She was a legislative draftsman, the Executive Director of the Mississippi Judiciary Commission, and an Assistant Attorney General.

 

In 1987, MUW bestowed its Alumnae Achievement Award upon Judge Payne. In 1988, she received life membership in the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation (membership in which is limited to 1/3 of 1% of all lawyers). In 1989, Judge Payne was named "Woman of the Year" by the Mississippi Association for Women in Higher Education, and in 1990, MUW gave her its highest award, the Medallion of Excellence.

 

Judge Payne is married to Bobby R. Payne, and they are the parents of two grown sons. They are active in the McLaurin Heights Baptist Church in Pearl. The Paynes often lead seminars on Time and Stress Management and the Problems and Delights of Dual Career Marriages.

 

Information from the Mississippi Supreme Court Web site: July 20, 2001.


Edwin Lloyd Pittman


Chief Justice Edwin Lloyd Pittman was born in Hattiesburg Mississippi, on January 2, 1935. He was educated in the Hattiesburg Public Schools. He received a B.S. degree in History and Government from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1957 and a J.D. degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1960.


Chief Justice Pittman practiced law for 16 years in Hattiesburg. He served in the Mississippi State Senate from 1964 to 1972; as State Treasurer from 1976 to 1980; as Secretary of State from 1980 to 1984; and as Attorney General from 1984 to 1988. He practiced law in Hattiesburg and Jackson. He was originally elected to the State Supreme Court for a term beginning January, 1989. He was reelected to the Supreme Court for a term beginning January, 1997. He served as Presiding Justice from January, 1998 until January, 2001, when he became Chief Justice.


He retired from the Mississippi National Guard as Brigadier General with thirty years of service. He served as a member of the National Association of Attorneys General Executive Committee from 1985 to 1987 and Chairman of the Southern Conference of Attorneys General in 1987. In addition, he was the 1989 recipient of the HUB Award presented by the University of Southern Mississippi for outstanding contributions to the community and dedication to public service. He is a charter member of the University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Humanized Education Award for 1982-83, presented by the Mississippi Association of Educators. He served as a member of the Board of William Carey College in Hattiesburg. He is also a member of the Mississippi Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the Mississippi Bar Foundation. He served as chairman of deacons and trustee of the church at Pinelake Baptist Church at the Reservoir in Rankin County, and is now an active member at First Baptist Church in Jackson.


Chief Justice Pittman is married to Virginia Lund Pittman and they are the parents of seven children: Mrs. John Wakeland (Melanie), Edwin Lloyd Pittman, Jr., Jennifer Pittman, Will Browne, Michael Browne, Mrs. Bruce Neal (Joli), and Mrs. John McClendon (Betsy).

 

Information from the Supreme Court Web site: December 3, 2003.


Lenore L. Prather

 

Chief Justice Lenore L. Prather was born on September 17, 1931, in West Point, Clay County, Mississippi to Byron Herald and Hattie Hearn Loving. She graduated in 1949 from West Point High School. In 1953, she graduated from Mississippi University for Women and was selected for inclusion in Who's Who in American Colleges & Universities.

Chief Justice Prather graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1955 with a Juris Doctor degree. Following law school, she was in private practice from 1955 until 1971 practicing with her father and subsequently with her husband, Robert Brooks Prather. In 1965, she was appointed as Municipal Judge in West Point, Mississippi, and served as a Municipal Judge until September of 1971.

In 1971, Governor John Bell Williams appointed Chief Justice Prather as Chancery Judge for the 14th Chancery District which consists of Lowndes, Clay, Oktibbeha, Noxubee, Webster and Chickasaw Counties. She was the first woman to hold the Chancellorship in Mississippi. Following her appointment as Chancellor, she attended the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada.

Governor William F. Winter appointed Chief Justice Prather to the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1982. She was the first female Justice for the State of Mississippi. Chief Justice Prather became a Presiding Justice in January of 1993. During her tenure on the Supreme Court, she has received instruction in appellate matters at New York University.

Chief Justice Prather was inducted into the University of Mississippi Alumni Hall of Fame in 1986, and in 1995 she was selected as the Ole Miss Law Alumna of the Year. In 1990, she received the Medal of Excellence from Mississippi University for Women, and in 1993 was the recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award from Mississippi University for Women.

Chief Justice Prather is a member of The Mississippi Bar, The Mississippi Bar Foundation, the Conference of Mississippi Judges, the Charles Clark Chapter of the American Inns of Court, the American Bar Association and the American Judicature Society. She is also a member of Rotary International and is a Paul Harris Fellow. Additionally, Chief Justice Prather is a member of Junior Auxiliary, the Daughters of the American Revolution and is a former member of Pilot International. She has been included in Who's Who in America from 1984 through 1998. Chief Justice Prather resides in Columbus, Mississippi and is a communicant at St. Paul's Episcopal Church where she has served as a member of the Vestry.

Chief Justice Prather is the widow of Robert Brooks Prather. She has three daughters and two grandchildren.

 

Information from the Supreme Court Web site: May 10, 2000


Ermea (EJ) Russell

 

Judge Ermea (EJ) Russell was appointed to the Mississippi Court of Appeals by Gov. Haley Barbour. She took the oath of office on May 20, 2011, filling the vacancy created when former Chief Judge Leslie D. King was appointed to the Mississippi Supreme Court.Judge Russell, of Flora, is the first African-American woman to sit on a Mississippi appellate court. 

 

Judge Russell has worked in the federal government, all three branches of state government, advised officials of fledgling foreign democracies, and served in the United States military. Her legal career includes government service as well as private law practice. Judge Russell grew up in Butler, Ala. She earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from the University of West Alabama, formerly Livingston University. She earned her law degree from Mississippi College School of Law. 

 

In October 1985, a few months after she graduated from law school, she became a staff attorney in the office of the Mississippi Secretary of State, where she served as director of the Uniform Commercial Code Division. Judge Russell served as staff attorney for the Mississippi Senate from December 1986 to May 1990, drafting legislation and advising committees. 

 

Judge Russell directed development of affirmative action policies to improve minority participation in higher education at the stateís eight public universities following her appointment as assistant commissioner for intercultural relations for the Institutions of Higher Learning in May 1990. Judge Russell became chief legal counsel to Lt. Gov. Eddie Briggs in January 1992. She was unanimously elected by the 52- member body to serve as Secretary of the Mississippi Senate in January 1993, and served for three years. 

 

Judge Russell was selected by the United States Information Agency to serve as a legislative consultant to fledgling governments formed after the breakup of the former Soviet Union. She served as an advisor to the Parliament of the Republic of Armenia and the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Judge Russell became the first female to serve as a Circuit Judge in Hinds County, Mississippi, when she was appointed by Gov. Kirk Fordice in April 1998. Following her time as a Circuit Judge, Russell returned to private practice for a brief time before joining the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as a senior trial attorney. She litigated on behalf of the government in enforcing the laws against employment discrimination. Prior to her appointment, Judge Russell was in the private practice of law with The Russell Law Firm, PLLC in Jackson. 

 

Judge Russell is a decorated veteran with more than 37 years of military service. During her duty she served in increasing positions of leadership and retired at the rank of colonel in September 2010. She is a veteran of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Judge Russell has received numerous awards and citations for outstanding performance and service to include the Global War on Terrorism Service and Expeditionary Medals, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, and the Bronze Star. 

 

Judge Russell is a member of the Mississippi Bar, the American Bar Association, the Charles Clark American Inns of Court, the Mississippi Women Lawyers Association, Magnolia Bar Association, and the Southern Association of Mediators. She is a former member of the Board of Bar Commissioners and the Governorís Judicial Reform Commission. She is a member of Morning Star Baptist Church and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. 

 

Judge Russell is the mother of two adult children, Marque and Ayla, and has four grandchildren.


James W. Smith, Jr.

 

Information not authorized per Justice.

 

Information provided by the Mississippi Supreme Court Web site, December 13, 2006.


Leslie H. Southwick

 

Judge Leslie H. Southwick is a Texas native who has resided in Mississippi since 1976. He graduated cum laude with a B.A. degree from Rice University in 1972, and earned a J.D. from the University of Texas in 1975.

 

Following his law school graduation, Judge Southwick clerked for the Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and for Judge Charles Clark of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. He was an associate in the Jackson law firm of Brunini, Grantham, Grower and Hewes from 1977 to 1983, and a partner from 1983 to 1989. From 1985-86, he was a member of the Governor's Constitution Study Commission.

 

Judge Southwick pursued government service in 1989 when he became a Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice (Civil Division). In this capacity, he supervised the one hundred and twenty-five lawyers of the Federal Programs Branch, which defends suits brought against the United States. He also supervised the Office of Consumer Litigation, a twenty-five lawyer division charged with civil and criminal enforcement of federal consumer laws. He has been an adjunct professor of law at Mississippi College. He is a member of the Charles Clark Chapter, American Inns of Court.

 

Judge Southwick has written several legal and historical articles which have been published in the Mississippi Law Journal, the Mississippi College Law Review, the Wall Street Journal, and various historical journals. He is the author of Presidential Also-Rans and Running Mates which won an American Library Association "Best Reference Work of the Year" award in 1985. A second edition is being published in 1997.

 

Judge Southwick is married to the former Sharon Polasek, and they have two children, Philip and Cathy. The Southwicks are members of St. Richards's Catholic Church in Jackson.

 

Information from the Mississippi Supreme Court Web site: July 3, 1998


Michael D. Sullivan

 

Presiding Justice Michael D. Sullivan was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on December 2, 1938. He is the son of the late Curran W. Sullivan and Mittie Chambers Sullivan. He graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1960 with a B.S. in History; from Tulane University in 1966 with a Juris Doctorate; and from the University of Virginia in 1988 with a Master of Laws in Judicial Process.

 

Justice Sullivan was on active duty with the United States Naval Reserve from 1961-63. He entered the practice of law in Hattiesburg in 1967, and engaged in private practice until July 1, 1975, when he was elected Chancellor for the Tenth Chancery Court District (Forrest, Lamar, Marion, Perry and Pearl River Counties) in the State's only Saturday election. He served as Chancellor until February 15, 1984, at which time he was appointed to the Supreme Court by Governor Bill Allain.

 

He was formerly the Mississippi delegate to the National Conference of State Trial Judges, a member of the National Conference of Probate Judges, and a delegate to the President's Committee of Judiciary on Victim's Rights. He is a member and former governor of the American Judges Association. Justice Sullivan is a former member of the Board of Governors of the Mississippi Judicial College.

 

Justice Sullivan is a Methodist. He is a member of the South Central Mississippi Bar Association, Mississippi Bar Association, and American Bar Association.

He is married to the former Catherine Carter. Justice Sullivan has four children: a son, David Paul, and three daughters, Rachel Michel, Margaret Elizabeth, and Sarah Catherine.

 

Information from the Mississippi Supreme Court Web site: July 3, 1998


James E. Thomas

 

Presiding Judge James E. Thomas was born in Columbia but grew up in Gulfport, where he graduated from high school in 1968. Judge Thomas did his undergraduate work at the University of Southern Mississippi where he earned a B.S. in History and Political Science in 1971. He then entered the University of Mississippi School of Law where he earned a J.D. in 1973.

 

Following graduation from law school, Judge Thomas returned home to Gulfport where, after a brief period of private practice, he was named Assistant District Attorney for the Second Circuit District (Harrison, Hancock, and Stone Counties). He served in that capacity from 1974 to 1982, and was sworn in as Circuit Court Judge in January, 1983.

 

Judge Thomas has been a guest lecturer at William Carey College and at the Mississippi Highway Patrol Training Academy. He is a past chairman of the Circuit Judges' Conference of Mississippi. His professional memberships include the American Bar Association; Mississippi State Bar; American Judges Association; and Board of Governors, Mississippi Judicial College. Judge Thomas is a past member of the Mississippi Judicial Performance Commission.

 

Judge Thomas resides in Biloxi and is the father of two children.

 

Information from the Mississippi Supreme Court Web site: October 1, 2003.


James E. Graves, Jr.

 

Justice James E. Graves, Jr., began his term as judge on the Mississippi Supreme Court on November 1, 2001. He was appointed by the Governor and then was elected by the people in November 2004. Justice Graves previously served as a Circuit Court Judge for 10 years. He was appointed in February 1991 to serve as Circuit Court Judge. He was elected to the position in a special election in September 1991, where he received seventy-seven percent of the votes cast. He was re-elected without opposition in 1994 and 1998.

 

He graduated from Sumner Hill High School in Clinton, Mississippi, where he was valedictorian. He was also selected as the school's Star Student because he had both the highest grade point average and the highest ACT (American College Test) score. He attended Millsaps College, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. After working at the Department of Public Welfare for almost two years, he enrolled at Syracuse University College of Law, where he received his law degree. He also holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York.

 

He worked as a staff attorney at Central Mississippi Legal Services. As a special assistant attorney general, he was head of the Human Services Division of the Attorney General's Office. Just prior to being appointed Circuit Judge, he was director of the Division of Child Support Enforcement of the Mississippi Department of Human Services. He was also engaged in the private practice of law for more than three years.

 

His teaching experience includes serving as a teaching team member at Harvard Law School where he has taught trial advocacy five times during the past six years. He has been a presenter at Stanford Law School on two occasions and was a jurist-in-residence at Syracuse University School of Law. Justice Graves has also served as an adjunct professor at Jackson State University, Tougaloo College, and Millsaps College where he taught media law, civil rights law, and sociology of law.

 

Justice Graves is a noted educator, orator, and humanitarian. He is committed in his continuing efforts to teach, motivate and inspire our youth. In that connection, he has delivered speeches and lectures at countless schools, churches, and universities throughout the country. He recently gave a keynote address at the International Reading Association 50th Annual Conference. On numerous occasions, Justice Graves served as host to various student groups and classes at the Hinds County Courthouse where he taught youth about the legal system. He also coached student mock trial teams from 1991-2003, reaching state finals every year. The Jackson Murrah High School mock trial team that he helped coach won the 2001 state championship. Millsaps College named him a recipient of the Livesay Award in 2004 for his service to the College and the community. The United States Department of Health and Human services presented him the Commissioner's Award in 2001 for outstanding leadership and service in the prevention of child abuse and neglect. The Mississippi Association of Educators presented him with the Humanized Education Award in 2002. This is the highest award presented to a non-teacher. Jackson Public Schools named him Parent of the Year for 2000-2001 and he was first alternate to Parent of the Year for the entire State of Mississippi. In recognition of his continuing efforts to save our youth, Justice Graves received the award as Champion Adopter for his mentoring in Lake Elementary Schools' Boys for a Brighter Tomorrow program.

 

Justice Graves has been recognized by numerous organizations for his commitment to the principle of "equal justice for all" and for his outstanding ability as a judge. The Hinds County Bar Association named Justice Graves the recipient of its Innovation Award in 2000 in recognition of his pioneering efforts in creating the first state-of-the-art high-tech courtroom in Mississippi state courts, in establishing the first court website for a Mississippi state trial court, and in implementing electronic filing of court documents. The National Bar Association awarded him its firstDistinguished Jurist Award in 1996. The National Conference of Black Lawyers selected him from among judges nationwide to receive theJudge of the Year Award in 1992. The Millsaps College Black Students Association named Justice Graves the recipient of its Alumnus of the Year Award in 1993. He received the NAACP Legal Award in 2004.

 

Information from the Mississippi Supreme Court Web site: December 16, 2008.



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