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

Pittman Receives Distinguished Jurist Award at MSU

April 16, 2002

Administrative Office of Courts

The Mississippi State University Pre-Law Society has named state Supreme Court Chief Justice Edwin L. Pittman as recipient of the Distinguished Jurist Award for 2002.

Chief Justice Pittman accepted the award Tuesday morning from MSU Pre-Law Society President Eric Eubanks during a ceremony in the John Grisham Room of the Mitchell Memorial Library on the MSU campus.

Pittman in his acceptance speech said the award is a reflection on the work of the entire judiciary.

"The Mississippi Supreme Court has during the past year undertaken a far-reaching program of administrative and technical changes, all aimed at improving judicial accountability and public access to the courts," Pittman said.

Pittman outlined some of the administrative changes and accomplishments by the court since he became chief Justice in January 2001. Among those were time standards for the trial courts and the recent adoption of a revised Code of Judicial Conduct.

Pittman expressed appreciation to the conferences of trial judges for their endorsement of the revised advisory time standards.

He recognized the timely work of the Mississippi Court of Appeals, which since its inception has adhered to a legislatively mandated 270-day rule in issuing decisions.

Pittman thanked members of the Supreme Court including former Justice Fred L. Banks Jr. and Justices William L. Waller Jr., Kay Cobb and George C. Carlson Jr. for their work on the court's Rules Committee, which did extensive work in revising the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Pittman thanked staff members including the Supreme Court's Central Legal Director, Jack Pool, for tireless work in shaping administrative rule changes from concepts into workable standards. He expressed appreciation to Mississippi Judicial College Executive Director Leslie Johnson for his work in preparing continuing education programs for judges, including special programs that focus on ethics for appellate judges.

Pittman, a native of Hattiesburg, has served on the court for 13 years. Pittman served in the Mississippi State Senate from 1964 to 1972; as State Treasurer from 1976 to 1980; as Secretary of State from 1980 to 1984; and as Attorney General from 1984 to 1988. He retired from the Mississippi National Guard as Brigadier General with 30 years of service.

The Distinguished Jurist Program was established in 1977 to recognize extraordinary individuals from all levels of government.

Past award recipients, listed chronologically, include: Tom C. Clark, former associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; Frank Johnson, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama; William Keady, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Mississippi; Orma R. Smith, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Mississippi; Archibald Cox, former Harvard University law professor, Watergate special prosecutor and U.S. Solicitor General; J.P. Coleman, former governor and chief judge of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Griffin Bell, former U.S. attorney general and judge of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Neville Patterson, chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court; Charles Clark, chief judge of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Robert C. Broomfield, United States District Court for the District of Arizona and former presiding judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court; Kaliste J. Saloom Jr., City and Juvenile Court of Lafayette, La.; Mary Stallings Coleman, retired chief judge, Michigan Supreme Court; Robert H. Oswald, state of Mississippi 16th Chancery District judge; Edward Hirsch Levi, former U.S. attorney general and president emeritus of University of Chicago; Lenore L. Prather, Mississippi Supreme Court; U.W. Clemon, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Alabama; William H. Webster, former CIA director and judge of 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Edward D. Robertson Jr., former chief judge, Missouri Supreme Court; Rosemary Barkett, 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; John C. Love Jr., Mississippi 6th Chancery Court judge and chairman of the Commission on Judicial Performance; John J. Fraiser Jr., former chief judge of the Mississippi Court of Appeals; Antonin Scalia, U.S Supreme Court associate justice; Norma Holloway Johnson, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; Sebe Dale Jr., Mississippi 10th Chancery Court judge; and Gary Schmidt, retired associate circuit judge of Moniteau County, Missouri.