Rankin County Court Judge Thomas Broome died May 21
May 21, 2023
Rankin County Court and Youth Court Judge Thomas H. Broome of Brandon died Sunday, May 21. He was 57.
A celebration of life service and reception will be held on June 10, 1 to 4 p.m. at the Muse Center at 515 Country Place Parkway in Pearl. A graveside service will be conducted on June 9 at 2:30 p.m. at Bay Springs Cemetery, 368 Mississippi Highway 18 in Bay Springs.
Judge Broome was a leader among youth court judges, a trailblazer in developing programs and initiatives to improve the lives of children and families, and a steadfast guardian of the well-being of children in his care.
He served as Youth Court Judge for Rankin County for more than 20 years. Among his many leadership roles, he was chairman of the Mississippi Council of Youth Court Judges for 12 years, and he served as co-chair of the Mississippi Supreme Court's Commission on Children's Justice since its inception in 2006.
Colleagues mourned his passing and recounted his legacy.
Supreme Court Justice Dawn Beam served as a co-chair of the Commission on Children’s Justice with Judge Broome. She said, “Judge Broome was a true public servant, leaving his mark on the lives of children, youth and their families who appeared before him, but also leading numerous initiatives to reform our youth court system.”
“He has led in bringing national solutions to Mississippi, such as trauma-informed care and training to educate judges and the child welfare communities on alternatives to removing children from their homes. He was at the forefront of juvenile justice reform, leading his own county to develop a premier detention facility while always working a phone call away to advise other youth court judges of options to help troubled youth,” Justice Beam said.
Hinds County Court and Youth Court Judge Carlyn Hicks said, “I have searched for the words, and there are not words adequate enough, extensive enough, or worthy enough to express what a tremendous loss to the judiciary Judge Broome’s passing brings. Judge Broome was a brilliant legal mind, systems change agent and incomparable jurist whose impact has been felt in jurisdictions across this nation. He left an indelible mark on all of our youth court jurisprudence through his guidance, wisdom, and mentorship. Most importantly, his invaluable friendship can never be replaced or duplicated.”
Judge Hicks worked with Judge Broome on numerous initiatives, and represented indigent parents by court appointment before the Rankin County Youth Court. The Rankin County Youth Court was one of the pilot programs which began offering court-appointed attorney representation to indigent parents in 2012. Judge Broome served as chair of the Parent Representation Committee that worked to expand parent representation to other courts. “As a pioneer of the parent representation movement in Mississippi, Judge Broome championed efforts to improve and enhance our legal system for the benefit of vulnerable families across the state. The children of Mississippi are better today because of his decades of dedicated advocacy and leadership on their behalf through innovation and steadfast judicial service,” Judge Hicks said.
Judge John Hudson of Natchez, Resident Jurist and former Adams County Youth Court judge, said, “I had the privilege and joy to work closely with Tom from the day he first took the Youth Court bench in Rankin County. He was a warrior for right causes. When I think of Tom, I think of the person Jesus described as a lamb in Matthew 25. He cared passionately about the ‘least of these.’ For him, those were the children and families whose circumstances had placed them in his court for support and accountability. He answered the call every time.
“His Youth Court is a national model on how courts should respond compassionately and meaningfully to the needs and actions of these most at-risk people. He followed the golden rule of court processes: to treat those in his court as if they were his own family and to provide them with the services and care that he would expect to be provided to members of his family if they should find themselves in this unfortunate circumstance,” Judge Hudson said.
Judge Broome founded the Rankin County Juvenile Drug Court in 2006, and he started one of the state’s two earliest family drug court programs in 2010. He established a Safe Babies Court Team for Rankin County in July 2015 - the second in the state. He implemented the state’s second Zero to Three program, giving intensive services to children from birth to age three.
“Other counties modeled their youth detention center after his,” Judge Hudson said. “The Center was committed to meaningful habilitation. He picked up every good idea from his colleagues and instituted them in Rankin County. He approached each day with the commitment to show the way to vibrant hope for all who came his way,” Judge Hudson said. “And you can’t describe Tom without talking about his levity. Every phone call, every meeting, every encounter was populated with some of his well-renowned humor. I am certain that Heaven is an even happier place because he is there.”
News of his illness spread on social media in April, bringing an outpouring of prayers and praise for the beloved judge. People spoke of his caring and compassionate work with children and families. Among the hundreds of hopes and prayers for healing and recovery were messages from people who had come under the jurisdiction of his court. One writer said, "Praying so hard right now for him. He saved my life. He never gave up on me. I’m alive today because of him and thank God will be celebrating 6 years clean 6/15.” Another wrote, "This breaks my heart! He is definitely in my prayers! I love him and he has made such an impact on my life with my kids! Lord, please be with him and heal him in Jesus name.” Another said, "Praying for Judge Broome. He has helped me for over 13 years with my grandbabies. Please give him the strength to beat this. There's too many babies that needs his help.”
Judge Broome held national as well as statewide offices related to the welfare of children. He served on the board and later as secretary of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, NCJFCJ. He was on the Family Violence and Domestic Relations Department Advisory Committee, the Alcohol and Other Drugs Committee, the Membership Committee and the Diversity Committee of NCJFCJ.
Judge Broome previously served as a member of the Mississippi State Intervention Courts Advisory Committee, a member of the Mississippi Uniform Youth Court Rules Commission, co-chair of the Legislation Committee on the State Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice, vice-chair of the Mississippi Children’s Justice Act Task Force, and vice-chair of the Statewide Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative Task Force.
He was appointed by former Gov. Phil Bryant to serve as the Legal Committee Chair on the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teen Pregnancy and Health Issues. Former Gov. Haley Barbour appointed him to the Mississippi Statewide Advisory Group for Juvenile Justice. He also was appointed to participate in development of the Statewide Dropout Prevention Plan.
Judge Broome received numerous awards and commendations for his advocacy on behalf of children and families. He received the 2015 Chief Justice Award, the Judicial Innovation Award from the Capital Area Bar Association and the Jackson Young Lawyers Association, the Lookin’ to the Future Award presented by Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth, and the Dr. Larry Leflore Juvenile Justice Advocacy Award. He was honored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI, Mississippi Chapter.
Judge Broome was a lifelong resident of Rankin County. He was married to his former law school classmate, Paula Henderson Broome. He was the son of Circuit Judge Rufus Houston Broome and Betty Dallas Broome.
Judge Broome was a member of the Pelahatchie Masonic Lodge #276.
Before his election to the bench, Judge Broome served as the elected County Prosecutor and Youth Court Prosecutor for Rankin County, and as the Assistant Municipal Prosecutor for Florence, Mississippi, while maintaining an active general private practice.
He graduated with distinction in 1996 from the Mississippi College School of Law, where he served on the Law Review, Moot Court Board, and as two-term president of the Law School Student Bar Association. He later served as an adjunct professor there.
He graduated with highest honors from Mississippi State University with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1988 and worked as a co-op student for Eastman Kodak. At MSU, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame and Who’s Who and was recognized as the Most Outstanding Engineering Graduate.