United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
On June 10, 2010, President Obama nominated James E. Graves, Jr. to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Upon nominating Judge Graves, President Obama said, "Throughout his career James E. Graves has shown unwavering integrity and an outstanding commitment to public service. I am proud to nominate him to serve on the United States Court of Appeals."
The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed his nomination and President Obama appointed him on February 15, 2011. Judge Graves is the first black judge from Mississippi to serve on the Fifth Circuit.
Judge Graves graduated from Millsaps College in with a B.A. in sociology and went on to earn his law degree as well as a master's degree in public administration at Syracuse University. He returned to Mississippi and served as a circuit court judge for ten years before being appointed to the Supreme Court by then‐Governor Ronnie Musgrove. He won election to the same position in 2004.
Judge Graves began his legal career as a staff attorney at Central Mississippi Legal Services. As a special assistant attorney general, he served as legal counsel for the Health Law Division and as head of the Human Services Division of the Mississippi Attorney General's Office. He also served as director of the Division of Child Support Enforcement in the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
A champion of education, Judge Graves has taught trial advocacy at Harvard Law School and media law and civil rights law at Jackson State University and Tougaloo College. In the spring semester of 2005, he taught the class, Law and Society, to Millsaps undergraduates.
Judge Graves has been honored with awards from numerous associations including the Hinds County Bar Association, the Mississippi Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the Mississippi Association of Educators, the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and the FBI Director's Community Leadership Award.
Judge Graves is married to Dr. Bettye Ramsey Graves and has three sons.