Veteran Supreme Court Justice Randolph challenged by Hattiesburg attorney Talmadge Braddock

Published 11:56 am Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pearl River County voters will chose between incumbent Supreme Court Justice Mike Randolph and challenger Talmadge Braddock on the Nov. 6 ballot to decide who gets a Supreme Court seat up for election in the Southern District.

Political pundits give Randolph an edge to win, and he has picked up the endorsement of Wyatt Emmerich, an influential newspaper owner and columnist. Emmerich owns a chain of newspapers in Mississippi, the main one being the McComb Enterprise-Journal. Randolph also picked up the endorsement of the Business and Industry Political Education Committee, BIPEC, a coveted endorsement.

Randolph has been on the state’s high court for eight years, and Braddock is a successful Hattiesburg attorney. Randolph also practiced law in Hattiesburg, and both are graduates of the University of Mississippi School of Law. Both live in Hattiesburg.

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The race is for the Southern District 2, Position 3, seat, one of nine positions on the State Supreme Court. All Supreme Court positions are elective. The way justices campaign is limited by legislative guidelines, and the terms are staggered. The position is listed as a “nonpartisan judicial election” on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Four justices are running for office this November in the districts, Randolph being one of them. District 2 is made up of 27 South Mississippi counties, including Pearl River.

This is Randolph’s second time to stand for election. He was appointed to the court on April 23, 2004, by then Gov. Haley Barbour, to fill the unexpired term of former Chief Justice Edward L. Pittman, and stood for his first eight-year term election in November 2004 when he garnered 65 percent of the vote cast to win the position outright.

Randolph is 65. He is a decorated Vietnam veteran, serving with the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One.

He formerly practiced law at his own firm in Hattiesburg, and has extensive experience in state and federal courts. He specialized in insurance defense work his first two decades, but in his last decade of practice divided his practice, equally representing defendants and plaintiffs, an Internet State of Mississippi Judiciary Administrative Office of Courts biography says.

Randolph is a member of Hattiesburg’s Temple Baptist Church, where he served as a deacon and Sunday School teacher. Quoting the Bible, he told the League of Women Voters: “. . .I subscribe to the wisdom imparted to Moses by Jethro. Judges should ‘fear God, be trustworthy, and hate dishonest gain.’ The priority of all Supreme Court Justices should be the same — ensuring fair and impartial justice for all.”

Braddock is a successful Hattiesburg trial lawyer, and one of his biographies touts him as “one of the most dynamic attorneys in the legal services industry.”

Also pointed out is that on Sept. 17, 2002, Braddock was featured on the front page of “The Wall Street Journal,” “for spearheading the second biggest class action in American legal history (WorldCom securities litigation).”

In addition, a bio on his law firm’s website points out that for the past two years Braddock’s “primary area of practice. . .has been the BP oil spill litigation which will soon become the second biggest class action in American legal history after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.”

Another bio says Braddock’s “highest priority” is client loyalty. The bio, published by his law firm, says he is a member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, head of the Mass Tort Division for Miss. Trial Lawyers of America and member of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers.

Braddock, born in Ripley, is also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Form, a group of top trial lawyers who have reportedly won million dollar and multimillion dollar settlements.

In other developments relating to the race, the Business and Industry Political Education Committee, called BIPEC, whose endorsement is coveted, endorsed Randolph. BIPEC said its those it endorses, in its opinion, were “best for adhering to the impartiality and fairness of rule-of-law adjudication for Mississippi’s highest court.”

The Associated Press reported that the latest filings of campaign finance reports showed that Randolph had raised $332,239 and Braddock filed two reports, one showing he raised $19,000 and transferred $7,100 to his political committee. His political committee reported collecting $7,720.