Judge Melvin Priester retired from Hinds County Court on June 3

June 8, 2020

Judge Melvin V. Priester Sr. retired from the Hinds County Court bench on June 3.

Chancellor Charles Smith

“I would like to thank the citizens of Hinds County as well as my colleagues and my staff for supporting me through my many years of service,” Judge Priester said in a letter to the Justices of the Supreme Court on June 3. “It has been a pleasure to serve Hinds County as a County Court Judge. However, due to my physical condition, I can no longer in good faith maintain my position.”

Gov. Tate Reeves will appoint someone to the judicial vacancy.

Judge Priester, 69, of Jackson said in a later interview that he has dealt with health issues for the past two years. He suffered a stroke in March 2019. He has a heart stint, and he developed diabetes.

“I think the people of Hinds County and from Subdistrict 1 deserve someone who could better serve them,” he said.

“God has blessed me to not leave me with limitations,” he said. “I’m doing fairly well. I just have a few medical issues that I’ve got to work through. I thank all those who have sent up prayers for me for my recovery. God has truly blessed me in that regard.”

He said that he does not know yet what he will do in retirement. “I will just lean on the Lord and He will show me the way.”

Judge Priester served for nine and one-half years on the Hinds County Court. He took office on Jan. 4, 2011.

“The time that I spent on the bench was certainly one of the most interesting and challenging periods of my life. I thank all those folks who put me on the bench. I thank all of those folks with whom I had the opportunity to work.”

Judge Priester served for more than two years as a Special Circuit Judge for Hinds County. He was one of several judges appointed by the Supreme Court in August 2008 under the JET grant program to address violent and drug related crimes. He previously served for nearly three years as a Jackson Municipal Judge. He was a special assistant attorney general assigned to health law matters from 1985 to 1987. He opened a private law practice in 1988.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education and a Master of Education degree in rehabilitation counseling from Boston University. He earned his law degree from the University of Texas Law School in Austin. Before entering law school, he worked in the mental health field for 10 years. He was a rehabilitation counselor and program director at a residential treatment program for emotionally disturbed adolescents in Dorchester, Mass. He worked as a psychiatric social worker at a Houston, Texas, psychiatric hospital, as an assistant unit director of a Houston out-patient mental health clinic, and as unit director of a residential mental health treatment program in Houston.

He coached mock trial teams at Lanier High School, Murrah High School and Mississippi College School of Law. He coached little league baseball. He earned a black belt in karate and taught karate to inner city children.