Supreme Court appoints eight members to Access to Justice Commission

August 3, 2022

The Mississippi Supreme Court recently appointed two new members to the Access to Justice Commission and reappointed six veteran members.

Judge Deborah Gambrell Chambers receives Judicial Excellence Award

New members are retired Jackson County Youth Court Judge Sharon Sigalas of Gautier and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly McCray Hampton of Oxford.

Reappointed to the Commission are Chancellor Jacqueline Mask of Tupelo and attorney Rodger Wilder of Gulfport, Commission co-chairs, and Supreme Court Justice Dawn Beam of Sumrall, Court of Appeals Presiding Judge Virginia C. Carlton of Jackson, Chancellor Deborah Gambrell Chambers of Hattiesburg and attorney Ammie T. Nguyen of Jackson.

Chief Justice Mike Randolph signed the order July 6. Appointees’ three-year terms will end June 30, 2025.

The Mississippi Supreme Court created the Access to Justice Commission in June 2006. The Commission works to develop a unified strategy to improve access to justice in civil legal proceedings for the poor in Mississippi. The Commission is tasked with investigating the need for civil legal services to the poor and evaluating, developing and recommending policies, programs and initiatives that will assist the judiciary in meeting needs for civil legal services to the poor.

Judge Sigalas retired from the bench on May 27. In more than 19 years as a Youth Court Judge in Jackson County, she sought to implement programs which help the children who come under the court’s jurisdiction. The Jackson County Youth Court served as a pilot site for the Mississippi Youth Court Information Delivery System, MYCIDS, and the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, JDAI. Judge Sigalas worked to create a school for children in detention. The Jackson County Court Appointed Special Advocates, CASA, grew from four volunteers serving eight children when she took the bench to more than 100 volunteers who serve more than 200 children. At her urging, the county hired a master’s level social worker to develop a program for infants and toddlers in Youth Court. Another licensed social worker was hired to find services for foster children 14 and older. Judge Sigalas founded the Jackson County Juvenile Drug Intervention Court in 2008. She was appointed by the Supreme Court to the state Intervention Courts Advisory Committee in November 2018, and served until shortly before her retirement. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Hampton has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi for almost four years. She previously worked for four and a half years as a state assistant district attorney in the Delta, and for a year as a staff attorney for the Mississippi Department of Human Services. She received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law, where she served as president of the Black Law Students Association, a member of the Dean’s Leadership Council and a member of the Trial Advocacy Board. As a law student, she served as a law clerk for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Memphis. Before law school, she served as an assistant teacher through the AmeriCorps program, assisting with the education of incarcerated youth at the Washington County Juvenile Detention Center. She also worked with the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights. She recently served as chair of the Mississippi Bar Young Lawyers Division Diversity and Social Justice Committee. She currently serves as a member of the Ethics Committee of the Mississippi Bar.