Circuit Judge Michael Eubanks died August 21
August 27, 2021
Retired Circuit Judge Michael R. Eubanks of Lumberton died Aug. 21 at his home, surrounded by family, after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 80.
Visitation for the public will be held at the Lumberton United Methodist Church on Saturday, Aug. 28, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. A private service for the family and close friends will begin at 11 a.m. The family requests that, out of respect for Judge Eubanks and his beliefs, everyone in attendance wear a mask.
Judge Eubanks was elected Circuit Judge in 1982 and took office Jan. 1, 1983, in the 15th Judicial District, which includes Jefferson Davis, Lamar, Lawrence, Marion and Pearl River counties. He retired in December 2006 but continued to serve as a senior status judge, hearing cases by appointment of the Mississippi Supreme Court. He also pursued interests in the oil and gas industry.
People who knew him described him as wonderful, generous, spiritual, witty man who had deep, strong values and always looked out for the less fortunate.
“He was fair minded and impartial and he absolutely believed that everyone was created equal and was entitled to equal protection of the law,” said attorney Joe Montgomery, a longtime close friend. “He made sure that happened his court.”
Even families of those who stood before him for sentencing had good things to say. Montgomery recounted a conversation from a few days ago with man whom he didn’t know, but who knew Judge Eubanks. The man said, “He really did a good job when he sentenced my boys.” Court of Appeals Judge Virginia Carlton practiced before Judge Eubanks when she served as an assistant district attorney. She recalled his compassion. “He presided over each case that came before him with integrity and impartiality. He was a dedicated public servant who will be greatly missed.”
Circuit Judge Claiborne “Buddy” McDonald practiced before Judge Eubanks as a prosecutor, first as an assistant district attorney then as District Attorney of the 15th District. He recalled Judge Eubanks’ keen intelligence, analytical abilities and fairness.
Circuit Judge Prentiss Harrell was elected as Judge Eubanks’ successor. Judge Harrell said, “Judge Eubanks was an excellent mentor from whom I regularly sought advice and counsel. He was very pragmatic and a student of the law. He was fair to all who came before him.”
Circuit Judge Anthony Mozingo said, “I began a solo law practice straight out of law school and Judge Eubanks, so temperate, compassionate and kind, was an example to me. Twenty years later, when I was sworn in to the same office he held, he guided and advised me. I still wear his simple, unpretentious judicial robe, always with a thought of him and his humble, good way.”
Michael Ray Eubanks was born Sept. 21, 1940, the son of Michael Joseph Eubanks and Nell Elizabeth Bass in Lumberton. He went to Lumberton Elementary School and Phillips Academy High School in Andover, Mass. He graduated from Tulane University with a bachelor of business administration in 1962. He earned a Juris Doctor from Tulane Law School in 1965. He played hockey at Andover and lettered in track at Tulane. He was an enthusiastic Tulane fan and supporter.
He was admitted to the practice law in Louisiana in 1965, and to the Mississippi Bar in 1966. He opened a general law practice in Lumberton. He later moved his office to Purvis. He served as city attorney, city judge, attorney for the Lamar County Board of Supervisors and attorney for the Lumberton School Board.
Judge Eubanks was elected to the 15th Circuit when the Legislature created a second judgeship for the district. The senior judge was Circuit Judge R.I. Prichard III. “Together they formed one of the most respected benches in Mississippi,” said Montgomery. The district now has three circuit judges.
He loved boating, fishing, spending time with his fishing buddies, traveling, hiking, playing bridge, gardening, and most of all being with his family and friends. “Anything you did with Mike was an adventure,” Montgomery said.
He was a longtime member of the Lumberton United Methodist Church, where he served as Chairman of the Board.
Survivors include his wife of 53 years, Sue Griffin Eubanks; children Michelle Eubanks Juden and husband Alex of Houston, Texas; Christy Eubanks Madden and husband Dan of Dallas, Texas; Mark Eubanks and wife Dana of Houston; and ten grandchildren: Katharine, Michael, and William Juden; Elizabeth, Mary Katherine, Connor, and Cade Madden; and Matthew, Madison, and Ellie Kay Eubanks. He is also survived by his sisters, Nell Noonan and Mary Eubanks of Durham, NC, and his brothers Gaston Eubanks and wife Shannon and David Eubanks of Chapel Hill, NC.