Five judicial candidates spoke Monday night, Sept. 24, at the monthly meeting of the Union County Republican Women’s Club (UCRW).
Club President Sue Morrisson presided at that the meeting in circuit court room at the Union County Courthouse. About 50 people attended.
Circuit Judge John Kelly Luther, who is running for re-election to his seat on the bench of the Third Mississippi Circuit Court District, spoke briefly. Luther, who is noted for his sense of humor and kindly demeanor on the bench, said simply, “I like my job.” He said he especially enjoyed the part of his job dealing with “Drug Court.”
Drug Court is a relatively recent innovation in the Mississippi judiciary which concentrates on working with people whose criminal violations are related to substance abuse. It is an intensive, highly structured program in which violators are tested frequently for illegal drug use and are required to attend frequent court sessions during which their progress is monitored by the court.
“For the first time I feel like I am really making a difference,” Kelly said of his work with the Drug Court program.
Judge Luther was first elected in 2014. He won 76 percent of the vote that year in the run-off election. He faces the same opponent in the Nov. 6 election.
While Union County is in the Third Circuit Court District, it is in the First Chancery Court District.
Chancery Judge John Hatcher is retiring from the chancery court, and four judicial candidates are seeking the his Place 1 seat in the November election. They are Nathaniel Clark, Lisa Ann Koon, Brad Tennison and Daniel Tucker. All four attended and spoke at the UCRW meeting.
Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Josiah Coleman was at the Monday evening meeting and spoke briefly. Justice Coleman was elected to the Mississippi Supreme Court in 2012 and his term runs until January 2021. Josiah Coleman is the grandson the late James Plemon Coleman, one of Mississippi’s iconic political figures.
James P. Coleman had served as a circuit judge, as Mississippi attorney-general, and as a state supreme court justice before he was elected Mississippi’s 52nd governor in 1955. He ran for and served in the state legislature after retiring from the governorship. President Lyndon Johnson appointed Governor Coleman to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in 1965, and he became Chief Judge of the of that court. He retired from the appeals court in 1984 and practiced law in Choctaw County until his death in 1991.
Also speaking at the Monday night meeting was Andy Gipson. Governor Phil Bryant appointed Cindy Hyde-Smith to the vacant U. S. Senate seat in April of this year and then appointed Gipson as Hyde-Smith’s replacement as Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce. Gipson is expected for seek election to a full term as Ag Commissioner in next year’s state elections.
Michael Watson, who expects to be a candidate for Mississippi Secretary of State next year also spoke at the UCRW meeting.