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Area judges elected to leadership posts

Three local trial judges were elected to leadership positionsduring the recent Trial and Appellate Judges Conference inRobinsonville.

Chancery Judge Edward E. Patten Jr. of Hazlehurst and CircuitJudges David H. Strong of McComb and Michael M. Taylor ofBrookhaven were recognized by their peers and elected to conferenceoffices.

Conference officers serve two-year terms and advocate for theirparticular branch of the judiciary in a variety of functions.Judicial conferences meet in April and October for continuingeducation training, and periodically during other times of the yearto discuss legal and judicial issues that arise in their courts.They also make recommendations on issues of legislation affectingtheir courts.

Patten was elected chairman of the Conference of ChanceryJudges.

“I look forward to serving as the chair. It’ll be a fun coupleof years,” he said. “I have a couple of projects I want toundertake.”

The primary project is to meet with the committee of chancerycourt judges to review court rules, which have not been modifiedfor many years, Patten said.

“I think they’re due for an update and modernization in somerespects,” he said.

The judge said he did not have any specific rules in mind thatneeded to be modified, but he believes the rules should be reviewedoccasionally to keep them current.

Patten has served as chancellor of the 15th Chancery District ofCopiah and Lincoln counties since 1999. He is also the chair of theSupreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules and previously served asa presiding judge of the Bar Complaints Tribunal.

Strong was elected chairman of the Conference of CircuitJudges.

“I’m honored to be recognized by my peers, especially this earlyin my career on the bench,” he said. “I’ll do the best job Ican.”

Strong was appointed in August 2006 and elected in November 2006to the 14th Circuit Court, which includes Lincoln, Pike andWalthall counties. He previously served as vice-chairman andsecretary-treasurer of the Conference of Circuit Judges andpresides over a Drug Court. He is a former Pike County publicdefender.

The judge said his role is to represent trial judges indiscussions with legislators about pending or existing legislationor rules that may affect the court.

“There are dozens every year, but it’s not an exceptionallytime-consuming position,” Strong said.

Taylor was elected to the Board of Governors of the MississippiJudicial College. The Mississippi Judicial College is responsiblefor education and training of court-related personnel, includingjudges, court administrators, court clerks, court reporters,special attorneys and juvenile justice professionals.

“It’s a great opportunity to be involved in judicial educationand training in all of our courts,” he said.

Taylor said he has been attending the college’s conferences fornearly 15 years and looks forward to being able to contribute andinfluence the training. However, he said securing funding for thecollege will be the most time-consuming task.

“Our biggest challenge is always funding to see that thejudicial education programs are adequately funded,” he said. “Weare the source for all judicial training programs in thestate.”

Taylor was appointed in February 2005 and elected in November2006 to the 14th Circuit Court. He previously served by appointmentfor 10 years as Youth Court referee for Lincoln County. He presidesover a Drug Court and is a member of the State Drug Courts AdvisoryCommittee.