Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael K. Randolph became the leader of the Mississippi Judiciary this past week. During his first day as Chief Justice, Randolph swore in Justice T. Kenneth Griffis as the newest member of the Supreme Court, gave the oath of Presiding Justice to Justice Leslie D. King and appointed and swore in Judge Donna M. Barnes as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals.
“The opportunity to serve on the Supreme Court is one that I appreciate and I thank you for, and I thank the Governor for the opportunity,” said Justice Griffis.
Griffis became Chief Judge of the Mississippi Court of Appeals on January 2nd. However, a few days after his selection was announced in November, Governor Phil Bryant named him to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Justice Griffis took the Central District judgeship previously held by Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr., who retired January 31st.
Justice Leslie D. King of Greenville took on more administrative responsibilities at the Mississippi Supreme Court on February 1st when he became a Presiding Justice.
“I’ll have the privilege of serving as the presiding officer in all the cases that are argued before my panel,” Presiding Justice King said.
Presiding Justices are also responsible for making sure that all cases assigned to the panel progress in a timely fashion. The Court adheres to a 270-day rule, issuing a decision within 270 days of the filing of the final brief in each case.
Chief Judge Barnes is the longest currently serving member of the Court of Appeals and is the first woman to lead the intermediate appellate court.
Former Gov. Haley Barbour, who appointed Judge Barnes to the Court of Appeals in August 2004, said she exemplified what he was looking for in a judicial appointee. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude and a law degree magna cum laude from the University of Mississippi and has 18 years of law practice.
“Donna’s reputation in the bar was sterling,” said Barbour. “Her stature in the community was the best. She was the kind of person that you would want to have responsibility. I am very proud to have appointed her, and so should we always want this quality when we appoint judges because of the critical role that you all play in making our country the country that it is, the greatest country in the history of the world.”
Chief Justice Randolph is the 36th Chief Justice in the 201-year history of the Mississippi Supreme Court. He became Chief Justice after the retirement of former Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. on January 31st. Chief Justice Randolph is the longest currently serving member of the Supreme Court, having been appointed to the Court by Gov. Haley Barbour on April 23, 2004.
He graduated from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., with a B.S. degree in business administration in 1972. He earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1974, where he served as president of the Law School Student Body.
Justice Randolph began practicing law in 1975, first in Biloxi with the firm of Ross, King, and Randolph. Subsequently, he practiced with the firm of Bryan, Nelson, Allen, and Schroeder in Pascagoula, Biloxi, and Gulfport. He opened a Hattiesburg office for Bryan, Nelson, Allen, and Schroeder in 1976, where he later formed the firm of Bryan Nelson Randolph, PA., serving as President and CEO until his appointment to the Supreme Court.