Judge James P. Brantley formally sworn in to Court of Appeals

September 27, 2001

Judge James P. Brantley was formally sworn in Thursday as the 18th judge to sit on the Mississippi Court of Appeals.

Brantley, 62, of Madison, said, "I believe I have the experience, the energy and the integrity to put to use on this court and hopefully make the difference."

Brantley, who grew up in Walnut Grove in Leake County, said, "From Walnut Grove, it was a long way to anywhere, and I'm so thankful I've had the opportunity to travel this road a portion of the way."

Brantley said he was winding down his private law practice with John Knowles and had planned to retire when he learned that the position on the Court of Appeals would become available. "I actively sought the position."

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, who appointed Brantley, greeted and congratulated him but did not address the crowd at the investiture ceremony in the Old Supreme Court Chambers of the New Capitol. Musgrove appointed Brantley to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Mary Libby Payne.

The appointment is through the end of 2002. The position for District 3, Place 2, will be up for election in November 2002. Payne's term would have ended in January 2007.

Payne told the crowd, "When I retired, I prayed that God would send someone to the court who loved the law, loved people and had good experience within the profession. James Brantley fills all those qualities and then some."

Court of Appeals Judge Billy G. Bridges administered the oath of office. Brantley's wife, Brenda, assisted him in donning the robe.

Brantley's voice quavered with emotion as he recognized his wife. "She has been my help-mate and my soul mate. I'm forever eternally grateful. Brenda, without you we wouldn't be where we are today," he said.

Former Mississippi Bar President Scott Welch III of Jackson, who faced Brantley many times on the opposite side of a lawsuit, said, "Some of you may think I'm here as a token defense lawyer."

Welch praised Brantley as a man of his word and said his leadership of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association, along with the work of then-Mississippi Bar President Grady Tollison, was significant in gaining passage of legislation that created the 10-member Court of Appeals in 1994. Brantley was president of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association from 1992-1993.

Biloxi attorney Paul Minor, who preceded Brantley as president of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association, said all people will benefit from Brantley's service on the court.

"The people of this state, judges, lawyers, but most importantly litigants on both sides will receive fair justice," Minor told those gathered at the Capitol.

For more information, contact Court Public Information Officer Beverly Pettigrew Kraft at 601-354-7452.

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