Katharine Surkin to become director of Administrative Office of Courts

November 1, 2023

Katharine McKee Surkin of Madison will become director of the state Administrative Office of Courts on Nov. 1.

Department of Child Protection Services workers deliver Thanksgiving meals

Surkin, 46, an attorney, has worked for the Supreme Court for 13 years.

Chief Justice Mike Randolph introduced Surkin at the state Trial and Appellate Judges Conference in Biloxi on Oct. 25. Chief Justice Randolph said Surkin “used to be my right hand.”

Surkin most recently was Chief of Staff for Chief Justice Randolph, having served in that position since July 2022. She served as senior judicial law clerk for Justice Randolph from August 2014 until July 2022.

Surkin said, “I feel called to serve the citizens of this state and what better way than to work closely with our trial judges and their staff to continue the effective and efficient administration of justice. I am honored that the Supreme Court Justices have the faith and confidence in me and my vision for this office.”

The Administrative Office of Courts, AOC, works “to assist in the efficient administration of the nonjudicial business of the courts of the state and in improving the administration of justice in Mississippi,” according to the legislative statute, Miss. Code Section 9-21-1, which created the AOC in 1993. The director of AOC assists the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who is the chief administrative officer of every court in the state.

The AOC is responsible for the administrative business of the state trial and appellate courts, including budget, finance and personnel. The AOC also works to obtain and manage grants, assists with studies and projects to improve the administration of justice, serves as the data collection unit of the court system, and sets standards and rules for electronic filing of court records.

Surkin began her legal career as a judicial law clerk for former Justice George C. Carlson Jr. of Batesville in December 2001, serving in that position for three and one-half years. She practiced law for nine years with the law firm of Page, Mannino, Peresich and McDermot. Her practice areas included mass torts, toxic torts, products liability, insurance defense, medical malpractice, professional malpractice and employment discrimination. She returned to the Supreme Court staff in August 2014.

Surkin, the daughter of an Episcopal priest, was born in Flowood and lived in Jackson and Lexington, Newport, Ark., and Little Rock, Ark. as the Rev. Dr. Daniel McKee held various diocesan assignments. She is an active member of St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral in Jackson, where she serves as a chalice bearer and formerly served on the Vestry. She also served on the church's search committee for a dean of St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral.

Surkin was married to her husband Joe Surkin for 16 years before he lost his battle with Multiple Myeloma this past spring. They share two children: MSgt. Adam Surkin of Pelahatchie, a contracting superintendent with the 172nd Airlift Wing of the Mississippi National Guard, who is married to Leian, Chief Operating Officer with the Mississippi National Guard Federal Credit Union; and Mary Kate Dalton of Madison, Office Manager for Performance Therapy Pediatrics in Madison, who is married to Davis, Chief Financial Officer for the Yazoo County School District. Surkin has three grandchildren: Shelby, a senior at Pelahatchie High School, Evelyn, a 5th grader at Pelahatchie Elementary School, and Mark Dalton, who will soon turn 2.

Surkin earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Millsaps College and a law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law. She was admitted to the practice of law in Mississippi in 2002. She also is admitted to practice in Alabama.