Presiding Justice King honored by National Judicial College
December 11, 2023
The National Judicial College honored Mississippi Supreme Court Presiding Justice Leslie D. King of Greenville as one of its 60 Courageous Judges.
The National Judicial College, located in Reno, announced the honorees on Dec. 7 in a program which concluded the 60th Anniversary Celebration of the nation’s oldest education program for judges.
The Judicial College said in a recent statement, “We honor 60 judges, present and past, from courts in the United States and abroad, who have demonstrated courage in upholding the rule of law and providing justice for all.”
Justice King said, “I am very appreciative of and humbled by this recognition from the National Judicial College. In January of 1995, I took the oath as a judge. In that oath, I swore to ‘administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich and ...faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as a judge according to the best of my ability and understanding, agreeably to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Mississippi.’ Each day as I enter upon my judicial duties, I review that oath. As a judge, my objective has been and shall always be to embrace, honor and fulfill the obligations of that oath.”
Justice King did not attend the ceremony.
Justice King is the longest currently serving appellate judge in Mississippi, having served on both the Mississippi Supreme Court and the Mississippi Court of Appeals. He has 29 years of appellate judicial services. He was one of the original members of the Court of Appeals, taking the bench in January 1995 when the newly created court began hearing cases. He was the first African-American to serve as chief judge of the Court of Appeals. He held the leadership position at the Court of Appeals for almost seven years. He was appointed to the Supreme Court on March 1, 2011.
Justice King previously served for 15 years in the Mississippi House of Representatives, from 1980 through 1994. He served as vice-chairman of the Ways and Means Committee (1988-1991) and vice-chairman of the Conservation and Water Resources Committee (since 1992). Other committees on which he served included Judiciary, Insurance, Environmental Protection Council, Housing Finance Oversight, and Universities and Colleges. He was chairman of the Mississippi Black Legislative Caucus in 1988.
During his early legal career in Washington County, he served as Youth Court Counselor, Public Defender, Youth Court Prosecutor and Municipal Court Judge for the Town of Metcalfe.
He has practiced law for more than 50 years, having been admitted to the Mississippi Bar on May 8, 1973.
He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1970, and from the Texas Southern University School of Law in 1973. He also completed courses at the National Judicial College.
The National Judicial College, located in Reno, Nevada, is the country’s oldest, largest and most widely attended school for judges. Each year the college educates appellate, trial, administrative law, limited jurisdiction, military and tribal court judges from all 50 states.
Honorees were selected from nominations by National Judicial College alumni and staff.
Presiding Justice King was the only Mississippi judge selected, although others have Mississippi ties. Jackson native Judge William Alsup was among the honorees. He is a Senior Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco. He has served on the bench since 1999. He attended Provine High School and graduated with honors from Mississippi State University. He received his law degree, with honors, from Harvard University in 1971, and a master's degree in public policy in 1972.
The ranks of 60 Courageous Judges included legends of the judiciary: The late Judge Constance Baker Motley of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York was a civil rights lawyer who litigated for integration of universities in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi and helped James Meredith gain enrollment at the University of Mississippi. Oregon Supreme Court Justice James T. Brand served on the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal at the end of World War II. The late Minnesota District Court Judge Dennis Challeen, a longtime National Judicial College faculty member, is credited by NJC with inventing the concept of sentencing nonviolent offenders to community service rather than sending them to prison. He began using community service in 1972.
The list of 60 Courageous Judges is at this link: