/Lamar relishes leaving Supreme Court for family in Senatobia

Lamar relishes leaving Supreme Court for family in Senatobia

Lamar stated that her number 2 grandson observed, while she was at home with her grandson in Senatobia, “You’re always going Jackson, Pu’.” Her children’s name is Puddin’. Lamar, 63 years old, made her decision to leave last fall, but she waited until mid-January to make it public. Randy Pierce and David Chandler revealed in December 2015 that they were leaving the state’s highest judiciary in a hurry to find other opportunities. Her community’s Citizen of Year 2010 stated that she wanted to complete this term. “When it finishes, it will almost be 10 years.” Lamar, who succeeds justices Lenore Pratter of Columbus and Kay Cobb, is the third woman to sit on the Mississippi Supreme Court. Dawn Beam, Chancellor of Sumrall, joins Lamar to make it an unusual moment in court history. She will be joining Pierce as she leaves. She said that she was excited about Beam’s arrival on Feb. 1. Beam, who is from Sumrall, admitted she had “given-up” the idea of having a female counterpart. Lamar describes her court experience in a “demanding” and “incredibly fulfilling” way. She insists that she did not intend to follow in the footsteps her father, Chancery Judge Leon Hannaford. At 19, she married John Lamar, her high school sweetheart and whom she refers to as “Johnny”. He wanted to go to law school. In 1974, she earned her home economics degree and nutrition certificate from Delta State University. She stated that her options for employment were two: being a Tate County Schools food specialist, or as an adjunct to a district court reporter corps. The courtroom was her choice. Lamar stated that she saw attorneys in their work for two years and decided to take up law school at the University of Mississippi School of Law. She graduated in 1982. After practicing law with her family firm, she became a prosecutor and a district attorney, before becoming a circuit judge. It’s not that she rejected the fatherly footsteps. Combining her experiences, she has advocated for increased funding for public defense and county drug courts for youth and people who cannot afford attorneys to help them with non-criminal matters like divorce and landlord disputes. Two new justices were appointed by Governor’s Office in late 2015 to replace the former court judges: Jimmy Maxwell of Oxford and Beam from the Mississippi Court of Appeals. Is the court going to change with these newcomers? Lamar stated, “We’ll be seeing.” “A change of justices does somehow alter the dynamics of the discussion.” Lamar described the nine-justice Supreme Court as “in a good position… a much better court than when I first arrived on it.” “I respect my fellow judges. “We can have a healthy conversation… without it deteriorating into anything personal.” Nine justices were elected from three North, Central, and South geographical districts to staggered eight year terms. She admits that the court’s work as the state’s highest court is not understood by the general public. Lamar says that she doesn’t know that she represents these people. She is referring to the Northern District voters who sent Lamar to Jackson. “We hear cases all across the state. We can only do our job fair. She insists that “We interpret law” and not the popular opinions about cases or issues. Lamar claims she is often invited to speak to women’s groups, particularly to young female lawyers. Lamar shared with her audience the importance of civility and preparation for lawyers who are able to succeed at a Women’s Bar Conference in Tupelo this spring. Lamar reminded her audience that she is in the business “resolving disputes”. It’s not part and parcel of the job to be disagreeable. Jurors pick that up.” She advised that being the most prepared person in the room was the best way to get rid of nervousness. She stated that preparation is the best way to build confidence. Lamar stated, “You can have everything, but not all of it.” There are seasons in your life, and there will be opportunities. Keep your priorities straight. Summer 2016 will likely see the completion of the final draft for a major criminal court rules overhaul Lamar claims has been required for decades. This set of rules applies from the lowest justice court through the municipal and circuit courts, from the beginning of a case to the end of a trial. As chairman of the court’s Criminal Rules Committee, Lamar stated that “we hope by summer to have one final draft for public comments.” The state’s criminal system and the public will now have one place to look for information about criminal proceedings. These courts will also have clear guidelines on how cases will be handled. What will her retirement look like after she takes off the black robe? Lamar said, “I don’t know.” “Maybe, Scarlett O’Hara says, that I’ll think about it tomorrow. “I know that I won’t be coming to Jackson every week, and I may enjoy things I haven’t been able do,” she said. She will also be able to review cases regularly because she has joined the ranks of senior status justices. She said it’s unlikely that she will return to the practice of law. She makes the 2 1/4-hour trip, but she enjoys diversion from her commute with web-book apps such as Audible. She’s reread many books, including To Kill a Mockingbird which she had missed years ago. Greg Iles, a Natchez author, has released The Bone Tree. She said that she had spent a lot of time driving the car during weekly trips up and down Interstate 55. Lamar said, “Time to think, catch my breath.” She also admitted that her family now revolves around her three grandbabies and John, her husband who is still in remission from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. This form of cancer affects about 80% of the population. Those kids call him Pops. She suggests that they might be able to travel abroad or within the country. What about retirement planning? Lamar says, “I haven’t exactly planned my future.” “Things just sort of happened. It’s been quite successful.