U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge will be 2014 SULC Commencement Speaker, May 10
- 4/10/2014 -
Judge James E. Graves Jr., of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will deliver the 2014 Commencement address for Southern University Law Center at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 10, 2014, in the F.G. Clark Activity Center on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus.
One hundred and fifty graduates are expected to receive the juris doctor degree this spring.
Judge Graves was nominated to the federal bench by President Barack Obama and confirmed on a voice vote in the U.S. Senate on February 14, 2011. He is the first African-American judge from Mississippi ever to serve on the Fifth Circuit.
Graves began his legal career in 1980 as a staff attorney at Central Mississippi Legal Services. At that time he also began his 17 years of service as an adjunct professor at Jackson State University.
After three years at Legal Services, he entered private practice, with a focus on civil matters in state and federal court. From 1986 to 1990, he served as a special assistant attorney general in the Human Services and Health Law divisions of the Office of the Mississippi Attorney General. Graves was director of the Division of Child Support Enforcement for the Mississippi Department of Human Services until his appointment to the Hinds County Circuit Court in 1991.
After serving ten years on the Hinds County Circuit Court, Graves was appointed an associate justice of the Mississippi State Supreme Court. He was elected to the court in 2004. He later became a presiding justice.
The Clinton, Mississippi, native earned a B.A. from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1975; a J.D. from Syracuse University in 1980; and a masterís degree in public administration from Syracuse in 1981.
Along with his legal work and teaching career, Graves has been very active in local and national bar associations. He is a Fellow of the Mississippi State Bar, and has served on a variety of committees of the National Conference of State Trial Judges, working on issues of concern common to state judges. He also is chair of the Mississippi Supreme Court Rules Committee on Criminal Practice and Procedure, former chair of the Mississippi Supreme Court Committee on Administrative and Related Matters, the Supreme Courtís Emergency Preparedness Committee, and Public Defender's Task Force.
Judge Graves is married to Bettye Ramsey Graves, associate vice president for enrollment management, at Jackson State University. The couple has three sons, and are members of the New Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jackson.