Judges offer insight, wisdom upon retirement

Retiring Chancery Court Judge Kenneth Burns addresses the crowd during Friday’s reception.
Staff Writer

They’ve got more than 50 years of experience on the bench and have heard literally hundreds, if not thousands, of cases. The number of lives they’ve touched is innumerable and yet, their job and court remains an enigma to much of the public.
Friday, it was their time in the spotlight, so to speak, a moment to reflect, share and say thank you.

Retiring 14th District Chancery Court Judges Dorothy Colom, Ken Burns and Jim Davidson were honored Friday with a reception attended by dozens of lawyers, friends, and city and county officials from Clay, Oktibbeha, Lowndes, Webster, Noxubee and Chickasaw counties in the district.

Staff Attorney Patricia Rives praised the group for their accomplishments as a team, including bringing five of the six counties into the online Mississippi Electronic Courts, building a Web site to share information about the courts with the public, and implementing an online calendar that lets attorneys coordinate court dates.

For Davidson, his 12 years on the bench were highlighted by “the so many good people” in the district and the “back roads” he often traveled coming home from court dates in the six counties.

“I would stop at a convenience store in the middle of nowhere, the people always were unbelievable,” Davidson said after accepting a gift from the chancery clerks and their staffs in the district.

Rives lauded Burns as a “great mediator” who could bring two sides together to a solution “better than anyone.”

“It is a tremendous responsibility deciding where someone’s child is going to go…It’s just not fun sometimes,” Burns said wistfully, looking back on the 16 years he served as judge.

His court administrator, Sandra Jackson also was recognized upon her retirement.

Rives teased Colom, the senior judge in the group and one of the state’s first African-American lawyers and judges, for always “great shoes” and “Stylish attire.”

But on a serious note, Rives praised Colom for possessing “all the qualities of a good judge,” including being learned and objective.

“I’ve learned so much from the staffs and from these two men,” Colom said.

She left the group with a final bit of wisdom.

“Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly,” she advised, quoting from the book of Micah in the Bible.

She then unveiled custom-made “Proud” sweatshirts. Hers proudly proclaimed “Proud Retired Judge,” while her husband Wil Colom wore “Proud Husband,” her son Scott Colom wore “Proud Son,” and daughter-in-law Nadia Colom wore “Proud Daughter.”

The judge’s picture was on the back with “Retired Judge.”

The three judges were presented custom-made metal benches from Steel Forest in Columbus and special hand-made gavels.

Their terms officially end Dec. 31. Their retirement marked the first time in state history three veteran judges all retired in the same year in a district.

Columbus attorney Joe Studdard was elected to replace Davidson, Oktibbeha County youth court judge Paula Drungole-Ellis was elected to replace Colom and Starkville attorney Rod Faver was elected tom replace Burns.

The three spent last week in judicial training preparing to take office in January.