The Lafayette County Courthouse was standing room only Friday during the investiture ceremony of James D. Maxwell II who was recently appointed as a Mississippi Court of Appeals judge by Gov. Haley Barbour.
Maxwell took the oath of office on March 2 but wanted to have a traditional formal investiture in Oxford where he got his start in the field of law.
Barbour appointed Maxwell on March 1 to fill the vacancy created when Judge David A. Chandler joined the Supreme Court.
Maxwell, 34, served as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi from October 2002 through February 2009. He represented the U.S. Department of Justice in criminal prosecutions involving public corruption, white collar fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, smuggling, firearms and gang offenses.
Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s office, Maxwell practiced civil law with the firm of Daniel Coker Horton & Bell P.A.
He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Mississippi and his law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law.
He is president-elect of the Young Lawyers Division of the Mississippi Bar and also serves as president of the Lafayette County Bar. He previously served as president of the Tri-County Young Lawyers of Lafayette, Yalobusha and Calhoun counties. He is a former member of the board of directors of the Mississippi Prosecutors Association.
Maxwell’s children, James D. Maxwell III and Mae Covington Maxwell, led the Pledge of Allegiance and his wife, Melinda B. Maxwell, held the Bible during the administration of the oath and assisted him in donning his robe.
Speaker Tom Dawson, retired U.S. First Assistant Attorney, called Maxwell a hard worker who threw himself into every case and investigation that came his way.
“He is at home writing a brief as well as preparing for a trial and he’s at home arguing a case before the judge,” Dawson said. “That’s a rare talent, and Jimmy has it.”
Dawson once teased Maxwell that he would prosecute Santa Claus if he had enough evidence.
“But I emphasize the second part,” Dawson said. “(Maxwell) is committed to doing the right thing for the right reasons. It’s called integrity and he’s got a lot of it.”
Guest speaker U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran joked that the courthouse was renovated “just for this occasion.”
“It’s a great day in the life and career for Jimmy,” Cochran said. “Gov. Barbour made a wise decision in appointing him. His bringing to justice dangerous criminals has made our state a safer place to live.”