Portrait of Justice Sullivan to be unveiled

May 17, 2002

A portrait of the late Presiding Justice Michael D. Sullivan will be unveiled at the Mississippi Supreme Court at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 30. A reception will follow in the third floor lobby of the Gartin Justice Building.

Jackson artist Bill Wilson painted the portrait. Catherine Sullivan, the late justice's widow, presented the portrait to the court.

Catherine Sullivan said, "He painted from a photo that Mike's daughter Rachel and I chose. Rachel and I were just determined that Mike should not be remembered as just a great jurist. So much of what was wonderful about him was his wit and his mischief, so we picked a photo that showed that."

Wilson's painting captured that wit and mischief, she said. "He got it," she said.

When she went to the studio to see the portrait for the first time, "I walked in and just started crying. It was like being in the room with Mike."

Chief Justice Edwin L. Pittman said, "It looks as if he is ready to speak. You keep wanting to ask him something. I look forward to the unveiling of this portrait."

Chief Justice Pittman was Michael Sullivan's law partner in private practice and served with him on the court. "He was the epitome of what an appellate judge should be, a judge of the highest integrity and the strictest legal discipline. He loved his job, and he did it as though he loved it," Pittman said.

Justice Sullivan, from Hattiesburg, served on the Supreme Court for 16 years. He was appointed to a vacancy by then-Gov. Bill Allain in 1984, and was elected to two terms. He served as chancery judge for the 10th Chancery District, which includes Forrest, Lamar, Marion, Perry and Pearl River counties, from 1975 until his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1984.

Justice Sullivan died Feb. 27, 2000.

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