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

Judge Henry Lackey to receive Chief Justice Award

July 11, 2008

The Mississippi Supreme Court will recognize Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City this year with its highest honor, the 2008 Chief Justice Award. The award will be presented July 19 at the conclusion of the Mississippi Bar Convention in Destin, Fla.

Supreme Court Chief Justice James W. Smith Jr. said, “The judiciary of our state is forever grateful to Judge Lackey for his dedication to fairness and exemplary behavior in the legal profession. Judge Lackey’s professional response in promptly reporting severe lawyer misconduct exemplifies the principles of honesty that all judges must practice routinely, but which are seldom publicly reported.”

The plaque which Chief Justice Smith will present to Judge Lackey reads: “In appreciation of your service to the law and to the people of Mississippi. Your dedication to the principles of fairness, honesty and integrity as fundamental to the rule of law is exemplary.”

Judge Lackey has been a central figure in an investigation which rocked the legal profession. He has said little publicly. When asked his thoughts about the matter recently, he said, “I just did what so many judges do every day: fulfill their responsibility and their obligation. Public officials are just supposed to do what is right.”

Judge Lackey has served as a circuit judge in the Third Circuit District of Benton, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Lafayette, Marshall, Tippah and Union counties for the past 15 years. He was appointed to a vacancy by former Gov. Kirk Fordice in 1993 when Judge William Lamb retired.

Judge Lackey has been a distinguished member of the legal profession for 42 years. He grew up in the small town of Calhoun City, and he stayed there to serve his community. He and his wife Helen, a former public school music teacher, live next door to the house where he was born.

Judge Lackey graduated from Calhoun City High School in 1952. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Mississippi College in 1956.

Shortly after he earned his undergraduate degree, he went home to run the family business, the Ben Franklin five and ten-cent store in Calhoun City, after his father passed away. Several years later, his National Guard unit was activated. He served in the U.S. Army in 1961 and 1962.

He enrolled in law school immediately after he left the Army. He graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1966. He was soon elected Calhoun County prosecuting attorney.

After serving a four-year term as prosecuting attorney, he accepted an appointment for a year as the state’s first public defender. Judge Soggy Sweat oversaw the pilot program at the University of Mississippi School of Law. Judge Lackey and three senior law students represented indigent defendants in the seven counties of the Third Circuit District. The pilot program helped lay the groundwork for the Legislature to give counties authority to designate funds for public defenders.

He returned to private law practice in Calhoun City and served as board attorney for the Calhoun County Board of Supervisors for eight years. He was a solo practitioner for 26 years, representing every kind of case that came through his door.

He previously served on the Board of Trustees of Mississippi College. He currently serves on the Commission on Judicial Performance.

He has one son, Kevin, who is director of the Administrative Office of Courts.