District 5, Position 2
Judge Joel Smith of Gulfport was appointed to the Mississippi Court of Appeals and took the oath of office on Jan. 19, 2021. Gov. Tate Reeves appointed Judge Smith to the position previously held by Sean Tindell.
Before his appointment to the bench, Smith served for 20 years as a prosecutor in the Second Judicial District of Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties. He was an assistant district attorney for 11 years and became trial division leader. He was elected as District Attorney in 2011 after longtime District Attorney Cono Caranna announced that he would retire. Smith took office in January 2012. He was in his third term as District Attorney when he was appointed to the bench. Smith practiced corporate defense and premises liability litigation with the firm of Bryant, Clark, Dukes & Blakeslee before joining the District Attorney’s office.
He is past president of the Mississippi Prosecutors Association, served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Prosecutors Section of the Mississippi Bar and was a member of the National District Attorneys Association. He is vice-chair of the Mississippi Children’s Justice Act Task Force and was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Mississippi School Safety Task Force. He served on the Mississippi Corrections and Criminal Justice Oversight Committee and on the Governor’s 2020 search committee to find a new commissioner for the Department of Corrections. He served as an instructor with the U.S. Navy Sexual Assault Intervention Training Program, the Southern Regional Public Safety Institute and the Harrison County Law Enforcement Academy.
He served as President of the Leadership Gulf Coast Board of Trustees and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Coast Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of the Gulf Coast Business Council.
He was admitted to the Mississippi Bar in 1999. He is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Mississippi.
He is a native of Gulfport and a graduate of Gulfport High School. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Mississippi in 1996 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1999.
He and his wife, Courtney, have three children. They attend First Baptist Church of Gulfport.