Justice Jess H. Dickinson was born in Charleston, Mississippi, in 1947. After graduation from East Tallahatchie High School in 1965, he attended Mississippi State University, receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in 1978. He received his Juris Doctor cum laude from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1982, where he served on the editorial board of the Mississippi Law Journal.
After practicing law for one year in Jackson, and 20 years in Gulfport, Justice Dickinson served as a Forrest County Circuit Court Judge, by special appointment of the Mississippi Supreme Court. His service on the Supreme Court began in January 2004. His first year on the Court, Justice Dickinson was awarded the Chief Justice Award for his work in advancing the administration of justice. He again received the Chief Justice Award in 2010 for his work on improving access to justice for the poor in Mississippi. In 2009, the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project awarded Justice Dickinson its Pro Bono Pioneer Award.
Justice Dickinson has served on the adjunct faculty of William Carey College and Mississippi College School of Law where, in 2009, he was elected by the law students as Adjunct Professor of the Year. He served two terms on both the Ethics Committee and the Professionalism Committee of the Mississippi Bar. He also serves as the Supreme Court's liaison to organizations providing legal services to the poor, and is a charter member of the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission.