Judge Kent McDaniel takes oath as Rankin County Youth Court Judge
December 28, 2023
Judge Kent McDaniel took the oath of office on Dec. 28 to continue his work as Rankin County Youth Court Judge.
Judge McDaniel said that he expects to serve for a year, but will not seek election in the special election in November 2024. He said after the ceremony, “The Governor appointed me so that the people of this county can elect their next judge.”
Gov. Tate Reeves appointed Judge McDaniel to fill the vacancy created by the death of County Court and Youth Court Judge Thomas Broome. Judge McDaniel’s one-year appointment is effective Jan. 1, 2024, and will end on Jan. 5, 2025. The Governor scheduled a special election for Nov. 5, 2024, for the Place 2 judgeship on the Rankin County Court.
Judge McDaniel retired Sept. 30, 2021, after 24 years of service as Rankin County Court Judge. He came out of retirement to work as a special judge hearing Rankin County Youth Court cases by appointment of the Supreme Court on April 20, 2023, assisting after Judge Broome became ill. Judge Broome died May 21. The Special Judge appointment by the Supreme Court is scheduled to end Dec. 31.
Reflecting on his long public service and his decision to return to the bench, Judge McDaniel said, “I love this county and I love the people of this county and I’ve tried to serve them the best that I could.”
Rankin County Court Judge David Morrow Jr. administered the oath to Judge McDaniel during the ceremony at the Rankin County Justice Center in Brandon. Judge Morrow noted a role reversal. Judge McDaniel had administered the oath of office to Judge Morrow when Judge McDaniel retired in September 2021. Judge Morrow was appointed by the Governor to the vacancy created by Judge McDaniel’s now short-lived retirement.
Judge McDaniel took the oath at the start of a ceremony in which a dozen other Rankin County officials were sworn in. Sheriff Bryan Bailey, Coroner David Ruth, Supervisor Sid Scarbrough, Supervisor Scott Berry, Supervisor Stephen Gaines, Supervisor Jay Bishop, Election Commissioner Andrew Sorrentino, Election Commissioner Rusty Bain, Tax Collector Caroline Gilbert, Tax Assessor Staci McNinch, Circuit Clerk Michelle Adcock and Chancery Clerk Mark S. Scarborough all took their oaths of office. Judge McDaniel, Judge Morrow, Justice Court Judge Richard Redfern, Chancellor Haydn Roberts and Chancellor Troy Odom took turns administering the oaths.
U.S. Congressman Michael Guest recognized retiring Chancery Clerk Larry Swales and retiring Circuit Clerk Becky Boyd and thanked them for their long years of public service. He told new and re-elected officeholders, “Thank you for your willingness to serve.”
Judge McDaniel has 40 years of public service. He began his career of state public service with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics as one of the original agents in 1972. He worked undercover for three years, then supervised investigations in 27 counties in south Mississippi.
He was Deputy Commissioner of Corrections 1979-1980. His duties included dealing with the budget and Legislative appropriations for MDOC.
In 1980, he became director of the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Training Academy. He served as director until 1986. After that, he was in private law practice for about three years.
He served as First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi from 1989 to 1995. He returned to the private practice of law in 1995, and was Flowood Municipal Judge from November 1995 until his appointment to the Rankin County Court bench by former Gov. Kirk Fordice on Sept. 1, 1997.
Judge McDaniel served as chairman of the Conference of County Court Judges for more than 10 years. He was appointed to the Commission on Judicial Performance in January 2015. He was Commission Chairman when he stepped down shortly before his 2021 retirement.
Judge McDaniel grew up in Sandersville in Jones County. He graduated with honors from Belhaven College in 1969, then earned a master's degree with honors from the University of Southern Mississippi. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from Mississippi College School of Law, graduating first in his class. In 2013, he was awarded a Doctor of Laws degree from Mississippi College School of Law, where he served as an adjunct faculty member for 25 years, teaching trial practice.
He served with the 20th Special Forces Group of the Mississippi Army National Guard from 1968-1973 and with the 112th MP Battalion, MANG, from 1973-1978, leaving the service with the rank of First Lieutenant.