Pittman announces Chief Justice Award recipients

July 28, 2003

Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Edwin L. Pittman named as recipients of this year's Chief Justice Awards House Speaker Tim Ford, Justices William L. Waller Jr., Kay Cobb and George C. Carlson Jr., Supreme Court Administrator Stephen J. Kirchmayr and Supreme Court Central Legal Staff Director Jack Pool.

Pittman announced the awards during the Mississippi Bar Convention on Saturday, July 26, in Destin, Fla. Five justices met with Ford at the court on July 18 and presented his award.

The annual awards recognize contributions of people whose work helped improve the judicial system.

Pittman said of Ford, "I appreciate his honesty and his decency and his truthfulness in all of his dealings with the court. He's been a great man to work with."

The plaque presented to Ford said it was "in appreciation of your good advice to and support of the judiciary throughout your legislative career."

Major judicial reform during Ford's tenure included creation of the 10-member Court of Appeals and the Administrative Office of Courts in 1994 and, more recently, tort reform.

Ford, accepting the plaque, said, "This really means a lot to me."

Pittman cited Waller, Cobb and Carlson for their work as the Rules Committee of the Supreme Court. The Rules Committee chaired by Waller has been instrumental in crafting a series of new rules and rules amendments which Pittman says have addressed his aims of promoting openness and accessibility to the judicial system, improving standards for conduct of judges and lawyers, reducing delay and inefficiency, and promoting fairness and equity.

Some of the changes adopted during the past year have included:

  • allowing electronic and photographic coverage of court proceedings;
  • revising rules for the practice of law by out of state attorneys;
  • revising rules for lawyer advertising;
  • adopting a way for tracking trial court cases taken under advisement to assure prompt decisions;
  • requiring random assignment of civil cases to trial judges;
  • making rules for pretrial exchange of information applicable to electronically stored data;
  • revising rules for opinion testimony by expert and lay witnesses.

Pittman recognized Pool for his work as head of the court's Central Legal Staff, a position he has held since 1994. The Central Legal Staff provides legal research to the court. Pool has worked closely with the Rules Committee in crafting rules and rule amendments.

Pool, a native of Natchez, previously worked in the oil business and had a private law practice in Natchez. He lives in Jackson.

Pittman cited Kirchmayr and Pool for "loyalty, integrity and dedicated service to the Supreme Court, the entire judiciary and the people of Mississippi."

Kirchmayr has served as counsel and court administrator for the state court system for 10 years. He oversees financial operations, personnel, planning and all other non-judicial functions of the Mississippi Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. He is a former deputy attorney general and former special assistant to the Commissioner of Higher Education. He is a Vicksburg native who resides in Jackson.