Chief Judge L. Joseph Lee of the Court of Appeals of the State of Mississippi announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of his term in December 2018.
Judge Lee earlier this year filed qualifying papers to seek reelection. On Tuesday, he withdrew his candidacy.
“At the end of this term, I will have served 20 years on the Court. It is time I step aside and permit qualified candidates who otherwise would not run against me the opportunity to seek the office. I will continue to serve out the remainder of my term,” Judge Lee said.
Judge Lee, 72, of Jackson, was first elected to the Court of Appeals in November 1998 and took office in January 1999. Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. appointed Judge Lee as administrative head of the Court of Appeals March 3, 2011. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court selects the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals from the judges of that court. Judge Lee previously served for seven years as a presiding judge.
Judge Lee was born in Poplarville and grew up in Lamar County. He attended the University of Southern Mississippi and the former William Carey College, now William Carey University. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from William Carey and a law degree from the former Jackson School of Law, now Mississippi College School of Law.
Judge Lee was honored as Mississippi College School of Law’s 2004 Lawyer of the Year. The Mississippi House of Representatives in 2004 passed a resolution honoring him for his judicial service and for teaching and mentoring students. The University of Southern Mississippi honored him with its Juris Sodalitas Distinguished Public Servant Award in 2007. William Carey University named him to the Alumni Hall of Fame in 2014. Mississippi College School of Law presented an Honorary Master of Laws to Judge Lee in 2009, and honored him with the Outstanding Judicial Service Award in 2015.
Judge Lee is married to Renee Simon Lee. They have three children and six grandchildren.
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