Chief Judge of the Mississippi Court of Appeals, Kenny Griffis Jr. has been appointed by Governor Phil Bryant to fill Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller’s soon to be vacant seat. Waller announced he would retire from his position January 31, 2019.
“I have elected to tender my resignation and retire from public service effective January 31, 2019, completing more than 21 years of service on the Mississippi Supreme Court and 10 years as Chief Justice. It has been my highest privilege to be elected as a Justice of the Supreme Court and serve as Chief Justice of Mississippi.” – Chief Justice Bill Waller
Presiding Justice Mike Randolph will become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court after Waller leaves at the end of January. The seat Waller held will be up for re-election again in 2020.
In a written statement, Governor Phil Bryant stated, “Judge Griffis has served exceptionally on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, and his wealth of experience on the bench will prove very valuable as he moves into his new role. He has an outstanding legal mind and is highly respected among his peers. I have full faith Judge Griffis will be a real asset to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Additionally, I am thankful for Chief Justice Waller for admirably serving the people of Mississippi for more than 22 years on the state’s highest court, and I wish him well in retirement. The people of Mississippi owe him a debt of gratitude.”
Griffis recently ascended as the next Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals in November of 2018, set to begin in that position in January of 2019. He has been a member of the court for 16 years, first elected in November of 2002 in District 3, Position 2. He took office in January of 2003.
Griffis ran to be on the state’s Supreme Court in 2016 against longtime incumbent Jim Kitchens and received 46.5% of the vote. Kitchens retained the seat for a term that expires in 2025.
According to state law, Governor Phil Bryant will subsequently appoint someone to fill Griffis’s seat, and since Griffis has already served over half of his term, that successor will be allowed to finish out the term. The seat for District 1, Position 1 isn’t up for re-election until 2022.
Other reported contenders for the Waller seat replacement included Griffis’s fellow Appeals Court Judges Jack Wilson and Virginia Carlton.
Judge Griffis is a native of Meridian, Mississippi. He currently serves as a member of the Mississippi Supreme Court’s Committee on Continuing Judicial Education and has also served on the Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on the Civil Rules, as Chair of the Bench Bar Committee of The Mississippi Bar, and the Committee on Electronic Filing and Case Management Systems. He earned accounting and law degrees from the University of Mississippi. He attended Meridian Community College and Mississippi State University – Meridian Branch. He was a Certified Public Accountant from 1984 through 2007.