Judge L. Joseph Lee has been appointed as chief judge of the Mississippi Court of Appeals. Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. made the appointment and administered the oath of office to Chief Judge Lee.
Chief Judge Lee, 65, of Jackson, will serve as administrative head of the Court of Appeals until Dec. 31, 2014. Judge Lee takes over the position previously held by Chief Judge Leslie D. King, who was appointed to a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Judge Lee was first elected to the Court of Appeals in Nov. 1998 and took office in Jan. 1999. He has served as one of two presiding judges of the Court of Appeals since 2004.
Judge Lee was born in Poplarville and grew up in Lamar County. He attended the University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University. He earned a bachelor’s of science degree from William Carey and a law degree from the former Jackson School of Law, now Mississippi College School of Law.
During high school and while he was an undergraduate, he supported himself and his family by working in the funeral home industry. He attended law school at night while working as a high school teacher and principal.
Judge Lee began practicing law in Jackson in 1973. In 1975, he bought funeral homes in Jackson and Rankin County. He ran the funeral homes for 20 years while also practicing law.
Judge Lee was honored as Mississippi College School of Law’s 2004 Lawyer of the Year, and he was presented an Honorary Master of Laws in 2009. The University of Southern Mississippi honored him with its Juris Sodalitas Distinguished Public Servant Award in 2007.
Judge Lee worships at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, where he serves as an usher and greeter. He is married to the former Renee Simon. He has two sons, a stepdaughter and two grandsons.