Supreme Court Clerk Muriel B. Ellis to retire June 30;
June 12, 2018
Mississippi Supreme Court Clerk Muriel B. Ellis will retire June 30 after more than 27 years of service to the court.
The Supreme Court on June 8 appointed Jeremy Whitmire of Madison as the new Clerk of Courts. Whitmire, a senior managing paralegal with a background in information technology, finance and banking, will begin his duties on July 1.
Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. said, “Mrs. Ellis brought grace, dignity and hard work to the office. She did everything possible to ensure that the hundreds of direct appeals and thousands of motions were properly filed and timely presented to the appellate courts. She was polite and helpful to all the members of the public having business with the clerk's office. She led the clerk's office in the transition to electronic filing and storage of records. She will be missed.”
Also retiring June 30 is Deputy Clerk Debra Knapp, 62, of Jackson. Knapp joined the office of the clerk in June 1991, four months after Ellis. The two have worked together for 27 years.
Ellis, 58, of Jackson, served four years as Clerk of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. She was the first African-American clerk of the state’s highest court. Ellis also was the first African-American deputy clerk and chief deputy clerk of the Supreme Court. She joined the Supreme Court Clerk’s staff as a legal clerk on Feb. 4, 1991. She became a team leader in 2000, and a deputy clerk in 2007. She became chief deputy clerk June 1, 2009.
“I am really grateful that I did start from the bottom,” Ellis said. “I have seen a lot of things change from 1991. Now all of our documents are scanned or electronically filed.”
Ellis said the highlight of her career was meeting and talking with Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr., who visited the Mississippi Supreme Court on Sept. 27, 2017, to celebrate the Bicentennial of the Mississippi Judiciary.
Serving in the top clerk position was “a dream come true....I have given my all,” said Ellis, who worked late and came in on weekends. “I think I have contributed all that I can.”
“I am leaving it in good hands. This is his time to shine,” she said of Whitmire.
Whitmire said, “Muriel has done an excellent job in the Clerk’s Office, and I know that I have some very big shoes to fill. She has been a very effective mentor for me, and my plan is to build on the foundation that Muriel has already established.”
“What I am looking forward to doing is helping to bring together the Clerk’s Office, the Information Technology Department and Mississippi Electronic Courts because the synergy between those departments is key to doing things more efficiently and effectively.”
Whitmire, 38, has worked for nearly 15 years as a paralegal in the Ridgeland office of the law firm of Wells, Marble and Hurst. As senior managing paralegal, he managed cases and directed workflow in large, complex litigation and trained other paralegals and support staff. He helped to incorporate information technology into all aspects of the firm’s work.
Whitmire grew up in Clarksdale. He worked in the information technology department of the Clarksdale Municipal School District while attending Clarksdale High School. He began work for Cleveland State Bank while earning a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree with an emphasis in computer information systems at Delta State University. He became local area network coordinator for the bank while earning a Master of Business Administration at Delta State.
The office of the Clerk of the Courts is the repository of records of the Mississippi Supreme Court and the Mississippi Court of Appeals. The clerk’s office, with a staff of 12, is responsible for case management that tracks each appeal for timeliness and completeness of the record from the time the case is filed until it is decided by the court.