Judge Tyree Irving of Madison and Judge T. Kenneth Griffis of Ridgeland have been appointed as presiding judges of the Mississippi Court of Appeals.
Irving said, "I look forward to continuing the service I have provided as a judge to the citizens of the state since January 1999. I feel honored to have an opportunity to be a part of the best justice system in the world, designed to insure fair and impartial justice for all people, no matter their economic, racial or religious status."
The Court of Appeals handles cases in three-judge panels, although all 10 judges of the court vote on decisions. Presiding judges preside over the panels during oral arguments and during the internal discussion of cases. The two presiding judges and the chief judge comprise the court's executive committee, which deals with administrative business of the Court of Appeals.
Irving, 64, has served on the Court of Appeals since 1999. He and Chief Judge Lee are the court's longest serving members, both having taken office in January 1999. Judge Griffis, 49 has served on the Court of Appeals since January 2003.
Irving is a past president and treasurer of the Magnolia Bar Association. Since September 2008, he has served on the American Bar Association's Judicial Division Standing Committee on Minorities in the Judiciary. The Committee acts as a catalyst to promote equal participation of minorities in the legal profession.
He is chairman of the Mississippi Judicial Advisory Study Committee. He was appointed to the Study Committee in July 1999, and became its chair in September 2008. The Study Committee was created by the Legislature to examine issues of court organization and management and make recommendations to improve the administration of justice.
Irving is a native of Greenwood. He was a solo practitioner in Greenwood before his election to the Court of Appeals. He is a former assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi. In 1978, he became the first African American to serve as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Mississippi since Reconstruction.
Irving taught school for four years in the Delta between his 1968 graduation from Jackson State College, now Jackson State University, and his enrollment in the University of Mississippi School of Law. In 1975, Irving became the first African-American attorney to serve as a law clerk for the Mississippi Supreme Court. He served as an Earl Warren Fellow intern with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York.