News

Ceremony to honor Justice Jess Dickinson set for Sept. 14

September 11, 2017

The Mississippi Supreme Court will honor Presiding Justice Jess H. Dickinson at a ceremony at 3 p.m. Sept. 14 in the En Banc Courtroom at the Gartin Justice Building in Jackson. A reception will follow in the second floor lobby.

The ceremony will be webcast on the Supreme Court's website, courts.ms.gov.

Presiding Justice Michael K. Randolph will give a welcome and introduce special guests. Speakers for the ceremony will include Mississippi Bar President John Richard Barry and Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. Justice Jim Kitchens will make a presentation, and Presiding Justice Dickinson will give a response.

Presiding Justice Dickinson will leave the court to become Commissioner of the Department of Child Protection Services on Sept. 18. He will replace his former court colleague, Commissioner David Chandler, who is retiring. Dr. Chandler stepped down from the Supreme Court on Dec. 7, 2015, to lead Child Protection Services.

Chief Justice Waller said, “Presiding Justice Dickinson is an original thinker who painstakingly researched and applied the law of each case. He was tireless as a writer and exhibited great energy and enthusiasm in his work, always tempered with collegiality. He is responsible for the creation of the Access to Justice Commission, affecting the lives of countless poor people who otherwise would be locked out of the courthouse. He provided superb leadership as chairman of the civil rules committee that recently published fully revised rules of evidence in plain language. He will be missed.”

Presiding Justice Dickinson, 70, has served on the Mississippi Supreme Court since January 2004. He became a Presiding Justice in 2011. He is chair of the court’s Rules Committee on Civil Practice and Procedure. He previously served for a year by appointment of the Supreme Court as special circuit judge in the 12th Circuit District of Forrest and Perry counties.

He was a founding member of the Access to Justice Commission, on which he served for 10 years, and he served as liaison to the legal services community. He is a frequent speaker on the need for equal access to justice. He served on the Ethics Committee and the Professionalism Committee of the Mississippi Bar. He is an adjunct professor at Mississippi College School of Law, where students named him Adjunct Professor of the Year four times. He also served as an adjunct professor at William Carey University.

He received the Chief Justice Award in 2004 for his work alleviating a backlog of cases as a special circuit judge. The Mississippi volunteer Lawyers Project honored him with its Pro Bono Pioneer Award in 2009. He received the Chief Justice Award again in 2010 for his commitment to access to justice for the poor. The Capital Area Bar Association honored him with the Judicial Innovation Award in 2011.

Presiding Justice Dickinson was born in Charleston, Mississippi. He is a graduate of East Tallahatchie High School and Mississippi State University. He earned a law degree, cum laude, from the University of Mississippi School of Law, where he served on the editorial board of the Mississippi Law Journal. He practiced law in Jackson for a year, then for 20 years in Gulfport.

He is an accomplished musician, playing 30 instruments. He played in rock bands in high school and college, and spent a brief stint as a studio musician. He now leads a band known as Bluegrass Appeal, in which he plays hammered dulcimer and other instruments. He teaches hammered dulcimer classes and has produced a series of instructional videos.

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