Supreme Court makes appointments to Commission on Children’s Justice

October 12, 2021

The Mississippi Supreme Court recently appointed new members to the Commission on Children’s Justice, in addition to reappointing members who presently serve.

Chief Justice Mike Randolph reappointed Commission Co-Chairs Associate Justice Dawn H. Beam, Rankin County Court Judge Thomas Broome and Tenth District Chancellor Rhea Sheldon. Chief Justice Randolph signed the appointment order on Sept. 30.

Mississippi makes improvements in access to justice

The Commission on Children’s Justice is made up of judges, child welfare professionals, educators, legislators and others involved with programs that work to ensure the well-being of children. The Mississippi Supreme Court created the Commission by order on April 26, 2006. The Supreme Court charged the Commission with developing a statewide comprehensive approach to improving the child welfare system; coordinating the three branches of government in assessing the impact of government actions on children who are abused or neglected; and recommending changes to improve children’s safety, strengthen and support families, and promote public trust and confidence in the child welfare system.

Judges who are new members of the Commission include Madison County Court and Youth Court Judge Staci O’Neal; Lamar County Court and Youth Court Judge Brad Touchstone; Harrison County Court and Youth Court Judge Michael Dickinson; Hancock County Court and Youth Court Judge Trent Favre; and Hinds County Court and Youth Court Judge Carlyn Hicks.

Department of Child Protection Services staff joining the Commission are Commissioner Andrea Sanders; Jaworski Davenport, Deputy Commissioner for Child Safety; Karen Austin, Director of Federal Reporting; Kimberly Wheaton, Deputy Commissioner for Child Welfare; Shannon Rushton, Deputy Administrator for Human Capital; and Shaquita Mallett, Deputy Administrator for Child Welfare.

Legislators appointed to the Commission include Sen. Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula, Rep. Jansen Owen of Poplarville, Rep. Kent McCarty of Hattiesburg and Rep. Angela Cockerham of Magnolia.

Other new members include Deanna Graves, Youth Court Programs and Court Improvement Director for the Administrative Office of Courts; Rachelle Richardson, Deputy Director of the Division of Youth Services of the Mississippi Department of Human Services; Joe Goff, Chief of Advocacy and Counsel to the Mississippi Department of Education; Dr. David Elkin, Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Youth at the University of Mississippi Medical Center; Parent Constituent Representative Christine Simmons; and Youth Constituent Representative Haley Rowell.

Commission members who were reappointed include: Chief Justice Kevin Briscoe of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians; Youth Court Judge Holly Denson of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians; First District Chancellor Jacqueline Mask; Lauderdale County and Youth Court Judge Veldore Young-Graham; Mississippi Judicial College Executive Director Randy G. Pierce; Jurist in Residence Judge John Hudson; Access to Justice Commission Director Nicole McLaughlin; Special Assistant Attorney General Teri D. Gleason, Director of the Bureau of Victim Assistance; LaRenda J. Harrison, Bureau Director II of the Office of Compulsory School Attendance Enforcement; Lynda Stewart, Director of the Children’s Division of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health; Mississippi Department of Human Services Executive Director Robert Anderson; Mississippi Department of Human Services Bureau Director Toni Kersh; Special Assistant Attorney General Paula Broome of the Prosecutor and Law Enforcement Training Division; Special Assistant Attorney General Anna Sukmann, Statewide Human Trafficking Victim Services Coordinator; Andre deGruy, Director of the Office of the State Public Defender; David Calder, Director of Children’s Advocacy Clinic, University of Mississippi School of Law; Shirley Kennedy, Director of the Children’s Advocacy Program, Mississippi College School of Law; Angela Robertson, Associate Director and Research Professor at the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University; Dr. Lisa Nored, Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice, University of Southern Mississippi; Dr. Scott Benton, Professor of Pediatrics, Director, Division of Forensic Medicine, Medical Director, Children’s Safe Center, University of Mississippi Medical Center; Amy Wilson, Executive Director of CASA Mississippi; Karla Tye, Executive Director of Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi; Devon Loggins, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mississippi United Methodist Children’s Homes; John Damon, Director of Canopy Children’s Solutions; Linda Southward, Executive Director of Children’s Foundation for Mississippi; and Patti Marshall, advisor to the Children’s Foundation of Mississippi.