George C. Carlson Jr. takes oath as Supreme Court Justice
BATESVILLE - Supreme Court Justice George C. Carlson Jr. took the oath of office at the Panola County Courthouse Thursday morning in Batesville and was at work at the Gartin Justice Building in Jackson by 11 a.m.
"I can promise to you dedication to the law and hard work. I assured the Governor I would be on the job Nov. 1," Carlson told colleagues and friends at a brief swearing in ceremony before driving to Jackson.
A formal investiture ceremony is expected to be set in December.
Gov. Ronnie Musgrove named Carlson Oct. 29 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Justice Michael P. Mills.
"I'm honored by the presence of Gov. Musgrove," Carlson said as the governor looked on. "There are hundreds and hundreds of outstanding lawyers and judges in the Northern Supreme Court District, and out of those hundreds of choices, the governor chose me and I am honored," Carlson said."I will do the very best I can to serve all of you, the citizens of this great state."
Carlson has served as a circuit judge for 19 years in the 17th Circuit District, which includes DeSoto, Panola, Tallahatchie, Tate and Yalobusha counties. Senior Circuit Judge Andrew C. Baker administered the oath of office that allowed Carlson to assume his duties as a Supreme Court justice.
"I was totally happy, loving each and every day of my work as a circuit judge," Carlson said, reflecting on his decision to submit his name to the governor for consideration for the Supreme Court seat. Carlson, accompanied by his wife Jane, son Russel and daughter Meredith, said his decision to seek the appointment was one he reached with his family. "If it were not for their loving support, I would not be standing before you today," Carlson said.
Carlson said he will work in Jackson, but he will maintain his family home in Batesville.
"By the way, I will be back in Batesville Friday night, and I will be in the press box," Carlson said as he left the podium.
"God bless each of you and God bless America," Carlson said.
Carlson does radio commentary for the Tigers, the South Panola High School football team.
Panola County Circuit Clerk Joe Reid said, "He's an ordinary guy. He's going to climb into the press box Friday night."
As a judge, "He's a workaholic," Reid said. "He's here all day. He comes in on Saturday. He comes after church on Sunday."
As a circuit judge, when he heard a case, "he hadn't just climbed up on the bench. He had read the file, and that's what he will be doing on the Supreme Court," Reid said.
Yalobusha County Circuit Clerk Mary Sue Stevens said, "He's just as conscientious today as he was when he took office 19 years ago and had his first term of court in Coffeeville in Yalobusha County."
Stevens said Musgrove "couldn't have looked the world over and found a better Supreme Court justice."
Batesville attorney Briggs Smith said, "He is the epitome of a Supreme Court judge."
The Rev. Dr. Jon Burnham, pastor of Batesville Presbyterian Church, where Carlson is an elder, said, "I think he is just the epitome of a wise and fair judge, and he is just a person of integrity."
For more information, contact Beverly Pettigrew Kraft, court public information officer, at 601-354-7452.