Gartin Building Courtroom with the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi

Judge Brantley talks to Madison Central students

November 30, 2001

Students who drink and drive risk injury to others, jail time, loss of personal opportunities and financial hardship for their parents, Court of Appeals Judge James P. Brantley told students at Madison Central High School on Friday.

Brantley described the penalties for driving under the influence violations, plus some other consequences. For instance, some professions won't grant a license to someone who has a conviction such as for DUI.

Brantley warned students to keep in mind not only the personal consequences of their behavior, but the potential impact on their parents, such as higher automobile insurance rates.

"You are going to cause an economic crisis in your family," Brantley said.

"We now have a law that says you have to have automobile liability insurance. If you get a DUI, what's going to happen to your parents' insurance? The first thing that is going to happen is it is going to be canceled," Brantley said, adding that a new policy of insurance would be harder to get and more expensive.

Brantley spoke to 30 students in Doris Jackson's sociology class as part of the Lawyer in Every Mississippi Classroom program sponsored by The Mississippi Bar Young Lawyers Division.

Brantley, 62, of Madison, the newest member of the Court of Appeals, outlined the operation of the court system and answered students' questions ranging from the handling of traffic tickets to tax law to elements of self defense and the running of a statute of limitations.

One student said she resented being "chewed out" by a police officer who stopped her for speeding.

Brantley said, "We fuss and complain about them, but believe me, when you become a victim of crime, that's when you really appreciate their enthusiasm. They don't make any money. They do it out of pure love. They start out at horribly low wages."

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 World Trade Center bombing, "we understand how we appreciate those, whether they are firemen or law officers," Brantley said.

A male student asked about the incidence of teen-age defendants in court.

Brantley said, "It's a tragedy that we see so many young people involved in the criminal system." Brantley said, "There are too many young people involved. What's it going to take to change it? I don't know."

Brantley encouraged students to consider careers such as teaching, medicine and law. Brantley said excellent opportunities are open in the legal profession for minorities and women.

When he asked how many wanted to become teachers, no hands went up.

"That's an indictment against our society, that nobody wants to teach," Brantley said. "Please, somebody, we need teachers. We've got to have them."

For more information, contact Beverly Pettigrew Kraft, court public information officer, at 601-354-7452. Digital photos of Judge Brantley in the classroom are available and can be sent by e-mail upon request.