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Taylor takes official oath

Already on the job for about a month, new 14th District CircuitCourt Judge Mike Taylor took the official oath of office Fridayduring an investiture ceremony at the government complex.

Taylor said he was grateful to Gov. Haley Barbour and thejudicial screening committee for recommending and appointing him tosucceed Judge Keith Starrett, who began his federal court duties atthe first of this year. Taylor was sworn in by senior districtJudge Mike Smith in early February.

“It’s been a busy first month,” Taylor told a standing-room-onlyaudience in the circuit courtroom.

Taylor expressed appreciation to Smith for his guidance inhelping him learn the ropes of his new job.

“He’s been a continual source of support,” Taylor said.

Taylor had high praise for the 14th District and Judges Smithand Starrett. He cited the judges’ support for drug court, a publicdefender system and use of state restitution centers, wheresentenced defendants go to work to pay fines and monies owed tovictims.

The new judge also praised the United States’ legal system ingeneral. He said he is proud to be part of a system whereby thoseaccused of crimes are judged by their peers.

“It looks not to experts but to people for their wisdom,” Taylorsaid.

The new judge was administered the oath of office by stateSupreme Court Justice George Carlson Jr., for whom Taylor served asan intern when Carlson was a circuit court judge in northMississippi. Carlson said Taylor, originally from Kemper County,did a great job as an intern and he expected that to continue nowthat he is on the bench.

“You’ve got a great, great person in Mike Taylor,” Carlsonsaid.

Carlson said Lincoln and surrounding counties are fortunate tohave a good judiciary, both for chancery and circuit courts. Thejustice mentioned a number of current and former area judges,including Mike Carr, Donald Patterson, Ed Patten, Joe Piggott,Smith and Starrett.

“He’s where he needs to be,” Carlson said of Starrett. “He’scertainly doing a great job on the federal bench.”

Fifteenth District Chancery Court Judge Patten, who supervisedTaylor while he served as youth court referee for about six yearsbefore his circuit court appointed, quoted U.S. Supreme Court ChiefJustice William Rehnquist in describing Taylor.

Rehnquist said the right to one’s day in court is meaninglessunless the judge hearing the case has the talent, experience andtemperament to protect imperiled rights and render a fair decision.Patten said that statement applied to Taylor.

“He’s going to be the kind of judge we’re all going to be veryproud of,” Patten said.