Three justices of the Mississippi Supreme Court who will begin new terms in 2021 will take the oath of office on Monday, January 4, at 11 a.m. in the En Banc Courtroom at the Gartin Justice Building in Jackson.
Chief Justice Mike Randolph, Presiding Justice Leslie D. King, and Justice Josiah Dennis Coleman will begin new eight-year terms.
Justice T. Kenneth Griffis, who won re-election in November, will begin his new term in January 2022. The position to which he was elected has a 14-month delay between the election and the commencement of the new term.
Chief Justice Randolph is the leader of the Mississippi judicial branch of government. He became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on Feb. 1, 2019. He is the longest currently serving member of the Supreme Court, with almost 17 years of service. He was appointed by Governor Haley Barbour on April 23, 2004. He was first elected in November 2004 and re-elected in November 2012 and November 2020.
He was decorated for heroism in Vietnam, where he served with the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One. He was honorably discharged in 1967. During law school, he received an appointment as a Reserve officer in the United States Navy Judge Advocate General Corps. He is a graduate of the Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island. He was honorably discharged in 1975.
He graduated from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, 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.
He began practicing law in 1975 in Biloxi with the firm of Ross, King and Randolph. He then practiced with the firm of Bryan, Nelson, Allen and Schroeder on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He opened a Hattiesburg office for Bryan, Nelson, Allen and Schroeder in 1976. He later formed the firm of Bryan Nelson Randolph, PA., serving as President and CEO until his appointment to the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Randolph has homes in Hattiesburg and Ocean Springs.
Presiding Justice King, of Greenville, has 26 years of appellate court experience, having served for almost 10 years on the Supreme Court and 16 years on the Mississippi Court of Appeals. He became a Presiding Justice of the Supreme Court on February 1, 2019.
He was among the original members of the Court of Appeals, having been elected in 1994 after the intermediate appellate court was created. He served as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals from April 30, 2004, through March 1, 2011, when Gov. Haley Barbour appointed him to the Supreme Court. He was elected to the Supreme Court in November 2012 and re-elected in November 2020.
He served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1980 through 1994. He was vice-chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and vice-chairman of the Conservation and Water Resources Committee. He also served on the Judiciary, Insurance, Environmental Protection Council, Housing Finance Oversight, and Universities and Colleges committees. He was chairman of the Mississippi Black Legislative Caucus in 1988. He previously served as Youth Court Counselor for Washington County, Public Defender, Youth Court Prosecutor, and Municipal Court Judge for the Town of Metcalfe.
He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1970, and from the Texas Southern University School of Law in 1973. He began practicing law in Greenville in 1973.
Justice Coleman has served on the Supreme Court for eight years. He was elected to the Supreme Court in November 2012 and re-elected in November 2020.
He is the second member of his family to serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court. Both his grandfather and his father were appellate court judges. He is the grandson of the late J.P. Coleman, who served as Mississippi Governor and on the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. J.P. Coleman also served briefly as a justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, resigning to accept appointment as state attorney general. Thomas Coleman, the younger Justice Coleman’s father, was one of the original members of the Mississippi Court of Appeals.
Justice Coleman grew up in Choctaw County. He graduated cum laude from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and philosophy in 1995. He earned his law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1999, and a Master of Laws from Duke University in 2020. He served for almost two years as a law clerk for U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander in Oxford. He practiced law for 12 years, first in Tupelo, then in Oxford.
He served as a volunteer firefighter on the Toccopola Volunteer Fire Department while he and his family lived in Pontotoc County. He and his family now live in Fentress in Choctaw County on a farm that has been worked by seven generations of the Coleman family.