Ann H. Lamar is appointed to Mississippi Supreme Court
Justices of the Mississippi Supreme Court praised newly appointed Justice Ann Hannaford Lamar for her extensive trial court experience, sound judgment and fairness.
Gov. Haley Barbour on Wednesday named Judge Lamar, 54, of Senatobia, to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. She takes the position previously held by Presiding Justice Kay B. Cobb of Oxford, who retired May 1. Justice Lamar will serve out the unexpired term, which ends in January 2009. Justice Lamar’s appointment is effective May 21, 2007.
Chief Justice James W. Smith Jr. said, “The primary thing about Judge Lamar is her wealth of experience and knowledge as a former district attorney and as a trial judge. First-hand trial experience is invaluable at the appellate level for fully understanding the ramifications and the nature of cases as they make their way through the judicial system. The Governor has again made an excellent choice in Judge Lamar. She will be an invaluable addition to the Supreme Court.”
Judge Lamar said, “It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to serve. I am humbled by the appointment. I am looking forward to a new challenge. I am looking forward to working with the other justices. I am appreciative of the confidence that the Governor has placed in me.”
Judge Lamar followed in Justice George C. Carlson Jr.’s footsteps to the Circuit Court and then to the Supreme Court. She was appointed as a circuit judge to the vacancy in the 17th Circuit Court District when Justice Carlson was appointed to the Supreme Court on Nov. 1, 2001.
Before her appointment to the trial court bench, she had served for a year and 10 months as district attorney for the 17th district, which is made up of DeSoto, Panola, Tallahatchie, Tate and Yalobusha counties. She also previously served as an assistant district attorney from August 1987 to January 1993 and from January 1996 to December 1999.
Justice Carlson, of Batesville, said he is pleased with Judge Lamar’s appointment. “She is one of the best lawyers in the courtroom I’ve ever seen. During my years on the circuit court bench, Judge Lamar very ably tried many cases before me, both as an assistant district attorney, and as district attorney. Her more than 20 years of trial experience will be a tremendous asset as she commences her tenure here on the Supreme Court. Judge Lamar has a reputation as a trial judge of being firm, but fair. She is known for her intellectual honesty and sound judgment.”
Justice Chuck Easley of Caledonia also praised her experience as a former district attorney and trial judge. “She has an excellent record. She is very experienced and very qualified. I’ve heard lawyers all over the northern part of the state comment that she is an excellent judge. I look forward to working with her. She is a superb addition to the court.”
Presiding Justice William L. Waller Jr. of Jackson said, “Judge Lamar blends a distinguished judicial heritage begun by her father, Chancellor Leon Hannaford, with a solid work ethic and a keen desire for the fair and efficient administration of justice.”
Judge Lamar concluded a year as chair of the Conference of Circuit Judges in April. She previously served for a year as vice-chair of the conference.
Judge Lamar becomes the third woman to serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court. Her predecessors were Chief Justice Lenore Prather of Columbus and Presiding Justice Cobb.
Judge Lamar said, “I think the best way I can serve women and help to open the door to them is to do the very best I can in whatever position I’m in. It’s what I’ve tried to do up until now.”
Judge Lamar will conclude some of her circuit court cases in the next few days before being sworn in as Justice of the Supreme Court. One of the things she will do is meet for the last time with about 20 Drug Court participants she has supervised since January. Circuit Judge Robert Chamberlin started the program in August 2006. Approximately 50 people are enrolled.
“I want to meet one last time with my Drug Court participants and encourage them and explain to them what’s going on,” she said. “We’ve seen some exciting results. I am still deeply committed to the Drug Court. I don’t know how I will participate or encourage it, but I will find a way to do it,” she said.
Judge Lamar is the daughter of former Chancery Judge Leon Hannaford of Senatobia. Her husband, John T. Lamar Jr., practices law in Senatobia. Their older son, John T. Lamar III, will graduate from the Mississippi College School of Law on Friday.
But practicing law wasn’t in her plans when she graduated from Delta State University in 1974, the same year her father went to the chancery court bench. “I had no intention of going to law school,” she said. “I have a degree in education. I had planned a career in dietetics. I just changed paths along the way.”
She worked as an administrative assistant in the Governor’s Office of Education and Training from 1974 to 1977 while her husband earned a law degree from the Mississippi College School of Law. They returned to Senatobia, where he practiced law. She worked as a court reporter in chancery court for two years, then enrolled at the University of Mississippi School of Law. She earned a law degree in 1982. She practiced law with her husband in Senatobia from May 1982 to August 1987.