JACKSON, Miss. (WDAM) - Three veteran justices of the Mississippi Supreme Court took the oath of office Monday to begin new, eight-year terms.
Chief Justice Mike Randolph, Presiding Justice Leslie D. King and Justice Josiah Dennis Coleman will fill their respective seats for eight-year terms.
Justice T. Kenneth Griffis of Ridgeland, who won re-election in November 2020, will begin his new term in January 2022. The position to which he was elected has a 14-month delay between election and the commencement of a new term.
Randolph, the leader of the Mississippi judicial branch of government, has almost 17 years of service on the Supreme Court. He became chief justice on Feb. 1, 2019.
Randolph is the longest currently serving member of the Supreme Court. He was appointed by then-Gov. Haley Barbour on April 23, 2004. He was first elected in November 2004, and re-elected in November 2012 and November 2020.
Randolph was decorated for heroism in Vietnam, where he served with the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division, the “Big Red One.” He was honorably discharged in 1967.
During law school, he received an appointment as a reserve officer in the United States Navy Judge Advocate General Corps. He is a graduate of the Naval Justice School in Newport, R.I. He was honorably discharged a second time in 1975.
Randolph graduated from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration in 1972. He earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1974, where he served as president of the law school student body.
Randolph began practicing law in 1975 in Biloxi with the firm of Ross, King and Randolph. He then practiced with the firm of Bryan, Nelson, Allen and Schroeder on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
He opened a Hattiesburg office for Bryan, Nelson, Allen and Schroeder in 1976. He later formed the firm of Bryan Nelson Randolph, PA., serving as president and chief executive officer until his appointment to the Supreme Court.
Randolph has homes in Hattiesburg and Ocean Springs.
King, of Greenville, has served on the Supreme Court for 10 years, and has 26 years of appellate experience. He previously served for16 years on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, including almost seven years as chief judge.
King was among the original members of the Court of Appeals, having been elected in 1994 after the intermediate appellate court was created. He served as chief judge of the Court of Appeals from April 30, 2004, through March 1, 2011, when Barbour appointed him to the Supreme Court.
King was elected to the Supreme Court in November 2012 and re-elected in November 2020.
King served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1980 through 1994. He was vice-chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and vice-chairman of the Conservation and Water Resources Committee and also served on the Judiciary, Insurance, Environmental Protection Council, Housing Finance Oversight, and Universities and Colleges committees. He was chairman of the Mississippi Black Legislative Caucus in 1988.
King previously served as Youth Court counselor for Washington County, public defender, Youth Court prosecutor, and Municipal Court judge for the town of Metcalfe.
He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1970, and from the Texas Southern University School of Law in 1973. He began practicing law in Greenville in 1973.
Coleman has served on Supreme Court for eight years. He was elected to the Supreme Court in November 2012, and re-elected in November 2020.
He is the second member of his family to serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court. Both his grandfather and his father were appellate court judges.
He is the grandson of the late J.P. Coleman, who served as Mississippi governor and on the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. J.P. Coleman also served briefly as a justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, resigning to accept appointment as state attorney general. Thomas Coleman, the younger Coleman’s father, was one of the original members of the Mississippi Court of Appeals.
Coleman grew up in Choctaw County. He graduated cum laude from the University of Mississippi in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and philosophy. He earned his law degree in 1999 from the University of Mississippi School of Law, and a Master of Laws in 2020 from Duke University. He served for almost two years as a law clerk for U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander in Oxford. He practiced law for 12 years, first in Tupelo, then in Oxford.
Coleman served as a volunteer firefighter on the Toccopola Volunteer Fire Department while he and his family lived in Pontotoc County. He and his family now live in Fentress in Choctaw County on a farm that has been worked by seven generations of the Coleman family.