Gray announces candidacy

Published 7:05 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Hello, my name is James L. Gray.

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, you, the voters of Pearl River County, will begin the process to elect your next Circuit Judge representing Place Two in the 15th Circuit Court District.

Judges who serve on the circuit bench, like the judges of old, travel from county courthouse to county courthouse, up and down the district, to hear the people’s legal matters and administer justice according to the law. About the only practical thing that has changed over the years for them is looking for a parking place rather than a hitching post. Their service and duty remain the highest calling for someone dedicated to the principles of honesty and fairness in the administration of the law and justice.

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The person who takes on the responsibility of presiding as a judge overseeing the litigation of the people’s legal matters should know the people being served, the land they live on and the means by which they make their living.

It was this belief that fueled my decision to seek this judgeship when I learned the incumbent, Judge Michael Eubanks, is retiring at the end of his term after 24 years of service on the bench. Given this opportunity, with careful thought and consideration, and with the blessing of my family, I humbly ask for your vote and your kind support in my bid to become your next Circuit Judge.

In making this formal announcement of my candidacy, I ask the voters of the 15th Judicial District in Pearl River, Lamar, Marion, Lawrence and Jefferson Davis counties to consider my experience, qualifications and background.

I have lived in the southern portions of Mississippi almost all of my life. I am the 50 year-old son of the late Hurschell Willoughby Gray and Merle Phillips of the D’Lo community in Simpson County. My father’s family hails from the Shivers-Silver Creek communities of Lawrence County.

The first 15 years of my life were spent in Columbia and Marion County. I attended public schools there until my junior year in high school, when my family moved to the Coast.

I graduated from Gulfport East High in 1972. I then attended the University of Southern Mississippi, where I received my Bachelor of Science degree in 1977. I earned my Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1980.

I have been married to my high school sweetheart, the former Serina Hicks of Gulfport, for 29 years. We have three wonderful children — Luke (24), Bill (23) and Elizabeth (21). Bill is an undergraduate at Mississippi State University.

I have 26 years of experience as a trial lawyer representing clients in both criminal and civil litigation.

I began my career practicing law in Lamar County for two years before opening my own practice in Gulfport. In 1989, I moved my family to New Orleans where I practiced law with a major law firm in a high powered environ. After eight years in the big city, with our children becoming teenagers and yearning for a simpler life, Serina and I decided it was time I went back into private legal practice.

We chose to settle in Picayune and I opened my law office in 1998. I haven’t looked back in the last eight years. I have practiced the kind of law I believe I was meant to practice — the people’s law.

I have based my legal career on the proposition all people — whether plaintiff, defendant or victim — are deserving of access to and fair treatment in the legal process; regardless of race, religion, creed or depth of a pocket book.

Faith, family and integrity are my constant guideposts. It was my faith that led me to enroll in the New Orleans Baptist Seminary where I received a Masters of Divinity degree in 1992. I have been the pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in the Nicholson community since 1994.

Currently, I am a member in good standing of the Mississippi Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Pearl River County Bar Association, Phi Alpha Delta Legal Fraternity and Picayune Mainstreet Association.

Now, with this opportunity to serve the people of the 15th Circuit Court District, people I have known all of my life, I ask for your help and support to bring to the circuit bench a court guided by the mandates of the untarnishable words, “… and justice for all.”

If elected, I will, with dedication and pride, uphold and administer the laws of the State of Mississippi and the United States of America. I believe justice carries the burden of responsibility to maintain integrity, honesty and impartiality. Truth will be the final judge in my court. I promise.

In closing, let me say to you this: I believe I have the experience, the knowledge and the temperament to render our citizens a court where protection, service and independence remain the stellar hallmarks of the 15th Circuit Court District.

I need your support. I need your vote.

Thank You.