Governor Barbour’s appointment yesterday of Court of Appeals Chief Judge Leslie King to replace Justice James Graves on the Supreme Court was anticlimactic. It’s a bit like hiring an assistant coach on your current staff to replace your head football coach. It may be the best move, but it’s not very exciting for the fan base.
Many people predicted King would get the position from the day that President Obama appointed Justice Graves to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Gov. Barbour admitted that King was the only candidate who he considered. It is a safe pick and a smart pick.
So who does Barbour appoint to replace King on the Court of Appeals? This is more interesting because there is no one obvious candidate. The people who always predicted King would get promoted to the Supreme Court believe that Barbour will appoint a current African-American state court judge. But there are four judges in Hinds County alone who fit this profile even if you only consider circuit and chancery judges. And the district is much bigger than just Hinds County.
Judge Denise Owens is a name I hear a lot and would be a popular choice. But unlike with the Supreme Court position, Barbour promises to run this pick through his judicial advisory committee. That would seem to make it a more wide open race. And a more interesting appointment from the fans’ point of view.