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Barbour appoints King to Mississippi Supreme Court

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Wednesday said state Court of Appeals Chief Judge Leslie King of Greenville has been promoted to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

King, who is black, replaces former Justice James Graves, the only black justice on the state’s highest court. Graves of Jackson recently left the Supreme Court after being confirmed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

King’s appointment is effective through December 2012, the end of Graves’ term.

King served in the state House before being elected to the Court of Appeals when it was created in 1994.

At a news conference with Barbour, King reflected on a time when the appeals court’s caseload lagged by as much as four years. He credited judges for catching up, and pledged to uphold a strong standard of judicial fairness.

“I think that the most important thing that I bring to the court is a sense of fairness and a recognition that everyone deserves his day in court,” said King.

Barbour pointed to King’s extensive experience in the Legislature and courts, noting that he served on a variety of legislative committees, including as vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and the Conservation and Water Resources Committee, as well as chairman of the Mississippi Black Legislative Caucus.

King said that he has witnessed a great deal of change in the state over the course of his career in public service. He said he “got the privilege” of being an inaugural member of the state Court of Appeals and helped to shape it.