Pittman Hears Last Case On Mississippi Supreme Court

Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Edwin Lloyd Pittman heard his last case Wednesday as a member of the high court. Wednesday marked Pittman's last day on the bench. He announced earlier this month that he was retiring.

Pittman, 69, is one of the few public officials to have served in all three branches of government in a career dating back to 1964. He served on the Supreme Court for 15 years.

"I would like to thank the court publicly... for the support given me while I have been chief justice,'' Pittman said after the court heard the appeal of a death penalty case.

Pittman said he was passing the gavel of chief justice to Presiding Justice Jim Smith, who officially moves up Thursday.

Members of Pittman's family - including his wife, Virginia, and children and grandchildren - were on hand for final day on the court.

Pittman retired nine months before the expiration of his elected term, which would end in January 2005.

Gov. Haley Barbour will appoint someone to serve the unexpired term. The election for Pittman's post is November.

With Smith's move to chief justice, Justice Kay Cobb of Oxford will become the presiding justice. Cobb has been on the court since 1999. Smith has been on the court since 1994.

Pittman joined the Supreme Court in 1989 and became chief justice in 2001. He served in the Mississippi Senate from 1964-1972; as state treasurer from 1976-1980; as secretary of state from 1980-1984; and as attorney general from 1984-1988.

Pittman also retired from the Mississippi National Guard as brigadier general with 30 years of service. He was unsuccessful in two runs for governor.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)