Colleagues praise Court of Appeals Judge Larry Roberts
Colleagues and friends of Court of Appeals Judge Larry Roberts praised him as dependable, fair, honest, knowledgeable, respected and wise during a Jan. 24 investiture ceremony in Meridian.
Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice James W. Smith said that Judge Roberts is all that an appellate judge needs to be. “Judge Roberts is a master when it comes to knowing the rules and how to apply them even-handedly. What you want in an appellate judge, you have in Larry Roberts. You have a person who is even-handed, who is extremely knowledgeable....I salute Larry Roberts and I commend the Governor. He could not have picked a more judiciously qualified individual.”
Gov. Haley Barbour appointed Judge Roberts, 56, of Meridian, to the Court of Appeals on Jan. 4. Judge Roberts fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Billy G. Bridges of Brandon on Dec. 31, 2005. The unexpired term for Court of Appeals District Three is for three years, ending in January 2009.
The entire Court of Appeals convened on Jan. 24 before a crowd of more than 300 people at the Kahlmus Auditorium on the Meridian Campus of Mississippi State University for the investiture of Judge Roberts. Although he had taken the oath of office an assumed his duties Jan. 10, he repeated the oath and put on the symbolic black robe during the investiture ceremony.
Court of Appeals Chief Judge Leslie D. King, who administered the oath of office, said, “From my perspective, there is no greater office, and no higher calling than that of judge. As judges, our responsibility is not to read and act on the latest poll, or to stick our fingers into the wind to find the path of least resistance. As judges, it is our constitutional responsibility and our moral obligation to administer justice without respect to persons and do equal right to the rich and to the poor.”
Circuit Judge Robert Bailey, who served for 18 years alongside Judge Roberts on the 10th Circuit Court, said, “As a judge he is one who is always prepared and follows the law, no matter what the outcome or the parties may be. He will be a tremendous asset to the Court of Appeals.”
Judge Roberts said, “This country is founded on a system of laws, not men. The duty of the courts is to administer justice in accordance to the law.”
Judge Roberts described himself as “a humble country boy, raised in Pachuta and later in Meridian.” Although he has been a judge for 27 years, “never in my fondest dreams” did he think he would reach the appellate court.
Judge Roberts said the investiture was an occasion for him to express gratitude to all who made it possible for him to be there. In an emotional expression of thanks, he spoke of his wife Sheila Roberts, to whom he has been married for 29 years; his sons, David and Bryan; his brother, Chancery Judge Edwin H. Roberts Jr.; and his parents, Edwin and the late Velda Roberts. “I’m convinced my mother is watching these proceedings from above.”
He thanked his staff and other co-workers of the 10th Circuit Court. He also thanked the citizens who elected him, first as a Lauderdale County Court judge, then to the 10th Circuit Court of Clarke, Kemper, Lauderdale and Wayne counties.
“Thank you for placing your trust in me and allowing me to serve as your judge for the last 27 years,” he said.
Judge Roberts noted that his appointment marks the first time in more than 50 years that a judge from east central Mississippi has served on a state appellate court.
Rep. Greg Snowden of Meridian said, “This is a big day for east Mississippi.”
Snowden, who serves as a deacon with Judge Roberts at First Baptist Church of Meridian, called him “one of those fellows who always has the capability to calm the waters.”
Lauderdale County Bar Association President Robert H. Compton said, “He is and always has been respected by the members of the Lauderdale County Bar Association.”