Justice James W. Kitchens is a lifelong resident of Crystal Springs, Copiah County, Mississippi. Born on April 29, 1943, he graduated from Crystal Springs High School in 1961, then earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1964, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1967.
Justice Kitchens is licensed to practice law in Mississippi and in the District of Columbia, and has been admitted to practice before the United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Mississippi, as well as the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.
He was elected district attorney for the Mississippi counties of Copiah, Lincoln, Pike and Walthall in 1971, 1975 and 1979. He served for nine years before returning to the private practice of law. He did not seek public office again until 2008, when he was elected to an eight-year term on the Mississippi Supreme Court (Central District, Place 3), commencing in January of 2009. He was re-elected in 2016 to a second eight year term.
Justice Kitchens has been married to Mary Tooke Kitchens, now a retired public school teacher, since 1968. They are the parents of five adult children: Suzannah Kitchens Finch, Matthew W. Kitchens, Daniel W. Kitchens, Rebecca Kitchens Thornton and John W. Kitchens. Justice and Mrs. Kitchens have 12 grandchildren.