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

Mississippi College School of Law names Chief Justice Smith as Lawyer of the Year

April 10, 2006

The Mississippi College School of Law has honored Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice James W. Smith Jr. as its Lawyer of the Year.

Dean Jim Rosenblatt announced the award during an alumni brunch at the law school in Jackson on Saturday, April 8. The awards ceremony was part of the Mississippi College School of Law 2006 Alumni and Reunion Weekend.

Chief Justice Smith is a Mississippi College alumnus. He earned his law degree in 1972 from the former Jackson School of Law, now the Mississippi College School of Law. He was admitted to the practice of law that same year. He earned his law degree while serving as principal of Pearl Junior High School. He earned a master’s degree in education administration from Mississippi College in 1973.

Dean Rosenblatt asked Chief Justice Smith’s wife, Kathy Smith, a teacher, to help make the presentation. She said, “He is the same 24-7. He is an incredibly moral man. He is an incredibly kind man, and if he says he will do it, he does it.”

Chief Justice Smith said, “I give credit first of all to God Almighty, and second to all those judges who have made my life so easy.”

Chief Justice Smith joined the Mississippi Supreme Court in January 1993. As the court’s longest serving member, he became Chief Justice on April 1, 2004.

Dean Rosenblatt said Chief Justice Smith distinguished himself as a leader from the time he was in high school. He was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” among the 1961 graduates of Pelahatchie High School. His 34-year legal career includes service as Pearl city prosecuting attorney 1973-1980 and Rankin County prosecuting attorney in 1976. He was appointed district attorney for the 20th Circuit Court District of Rankin and Madison counties in 1977. He continued to serve in that position until he was appointed Rankin County Court Judge in 1982.