Administrative Office of Courts
Kitchens becomes Presiding Justice of Mississippi Supreme Court
October 4, 2017
State Supreme Court Justice James W. Kitchens of Crystal Springs has been elevated to the position of Presiding Justice.
Kitchens became a presiding justice following the Sept. 15 departure of Presiding Justice Jess H. Dickinson, who left the Court to become Commissioner of the Department of Child Protection Services.
Chief Justice William L. Waller, Jr., is the longest-serving justice, followed by Presiding Justice Michael K. Randolph, then by Kitchens, who has been a member of the Supreme Court since January 2009. Justice Kitchens was elected from the state’s Central Supreme Court District in 2008, and was re-elected in 2016 to a second eight-year term.
The nine-member Mississippi Supreme Court is comprised of a chief justice, two presiding justices and six associate justices. The three leadership positions on the state’s highest court are determined by length of tenure on the Supreme Court. Each justice, regardless of tenure, has one vote on all of the Court’s decisions.
The chief justice and the two presiding justices comprise the Court’s Executive Committee, which has administrative responsibilities and makes recommendations to the other justices regarding day-to-day operations of the Supreme Court. Most oral arguments are heard by panels of three justices. The panels always include the chief justice or one of the two presiding justices. One of the three longest-tenured justices presides over each panel argument.
Before his election to the Mississippi Supreme Court, Kitchens was a practicing attorney. Earlier this year, during the Mississippi Bar Convention, he was recognized for 50 years as a member of the Bar. He was elected district attorney for Copiah, Lincoln, Pike and Walthall Counties in 1971, 1975, and 1979. He and his wife, Mary T. Kitchens, are in their 50th year of marriage. Justice and Mrs. Kitchens have five adult children and 12 grandchildren, all of whom reside in Crystal Springs. He is the eldest son of the late Lloyd W. Kitchens and Edith F. Kitchens, age 103.