Judge Lumpkin pledges tireless efforts in service

March 27, 2024

Recently appointed Circuit Judge Richelle Lumpkin said that she will give her all, as her parents taught her, in service to the court and the people of the 15th Circuit Court District.

Judge Claiborne

At her investiture ceremony on March 25, she said, “My promise to Governor Reeves and to every citizen in this 15th Circuit Court District is to be the best circuit judge that I can be, as I have been taught from my youth.”

She told the crowd that filled the Pearl River County Circuit Courtroom in Poplarville, “I pledge to continue to work tirelessly as a member of the judiciary and to fulfill my judicial role in a fair, impartial manner and administer justice equally to all. I also promise to up-hold the rule of law and the Constitution of the State of Mississippi and the Constitution of the United States of America. As I assume this important office, my prayer is that of the Psalmist: ‘Give me understanding and I shall keep thy law; Yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.’”

Gov. Tate Reeves, who appointed Judge Lumpkin to the 15th Circuit Court, called her an “incredibly accomplished and successful judge.” He said, “Judge Lumpkin has my complete and total confidence. I know she will do an excellent job and I know she will make this entire community, her home, and this entire state proud.”

The Governor noted the Jan. 1 death of Judge Claiborne “Buddy” McDonald IV, whose passing created a vacancy on the 15th Circuit. “I think we all know and it should be stated that Judge Lumpkin has big shoes to fill....We were all saddened by the passing of the Honorable Buddy McDonald. But I know that Judge Lumpkin will fill this seat with the honor and distinction that is required.”

Chief Justice Mike Randolph gave Judge Lumpkin the charge to serve and administered the ceremonial oath. He recalled her predecessor, Judge McDonald, and noted that he swore in Judge McDonald in 2016.

Judge Lumpkin began hearing Circuit Court cases on Feb. 19. She took the oath of office before beginning work. It is customary for judges to take a ceremonial oath again during an investiture.

Chief Justice Randolph spoke about the importance of prayer and patriotism. The investiture ceremony began with prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of the National Anthem. The Mississippi Supreme Court begins its En Banc meetings with prayer. Sculpted friezes at the U.S. Supreme Court include Moses with the Ten Commandments, and the constitutions of all 50 states contain references to God.

“We shouldn’t be ashamed to have prayers publicly and proclaim who we are as a nation,” he said. He spoke about the importance of faith, saying, “You don’t have to set it aside to be something you are not.”

Judge Lumpkin put on Judge McDonald’s judicial robe after she took the oath. Her children, Hannah and Hunter Lumpkin, helped her don the robe.

Judge Lumpkin said, “I am humbled by the trust that he (the Governor) has placed in me to fill the vacancy that was left by the passing of my mentor and personal friend, the late Circuit Judge Claiborne ‘Buddy’ McDonald IV. I am keenly aware of the responsibilities....I am ready to meet the challenges that I will face but also the opportunity that I have to make a positive difference for our citizens, the judiciary and the district.”

Judge Lumpkin paid tribute to her late parents, Adrain Pate Lumpkin Sr. and Virginia Kirkland Lumpkin. They were educators, and they demanded best efforts from her and her brother, Adrain, in everything they undertook. “They taught us the importance of loving God and loving family, of being loyal and being honest. They also taught us that whatever we were doing, we would do it to the very best of our abilities. My brother and I are continually grateful for the love, guidance, support and the values that they instilled in us. They helped greatly shape us into the people that we are today. They raised us to be the best that we could be.”

She told her husband, Wendell, and children, Hunter and Hannah, “Thank you for your steadfast support and belief in me.”

Senior Circuit Judge Prentiss Harrell said, “It will be a genuine pleasure to work with her.” Judge Harrell noted that Gov. Reeves has appointed four judges within the 15th Circuit. “I genuinely believe with all of my heart that the other four judges will mirror what Amos 5:24 states: Let justice roll like a river, like a never ending stream. I know that Judge Lumpkin will make a significant contribution and I applaud your appointment of her, and I am grateful to sit alongside her.”

In addition to his appointment of Judge Lumpkin, Gov. Reeves recently appointed Pearl River County Court Judge Lisa Beech McGloflin to the judgeship which Judge Lumpkin previously held. The Governor also appointed Circuit Judge Brad Touchstone to a vacancy on the 15th Circuit in January 2023 and Joseph “Jop” Parker to the Lamar County Court in February 2023.

Judge Touchstone said, “Judge Harrell and I both look forward to serving with you on the Circuit Court bench.”

Rep. Jansen Owen began his legal career as a staff member for Judge Lumpkin while she was Pearl River County Court Judge. “I have witnessed first-hand Judge Lumpkin’s commitment to her community, but more importantly her commitment to the rule of law, her commitment to the Constitution, her commitment to determining what the law is and not how she feels it should be.”

He noted that Judge Lumpkin is the first woman Circuit Judge to serve the 15th Circuit District.

Judge Lumpkin was the first person to serve as County Court Judge for Pearl River County. The 2010 Legislature authorized creation of a County Court for Pearl River County to relieve a crowded Circuit Court and Youth Court docket. She took office in 2011.

She served by appointment of the Chancery Court as Youth Court Referee for eight years before her election to County Court. She also served as Municipal Judge for the City of Picayune for four years. She previously served for eight years as Pearl River County prosecutor.

She earned a Bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Southern Mississippi and a law degree from Mississippi College School of Law.

She lives in Carriere.