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Released July 27, 2004


HATTIESBURG -- Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice James Smith, a graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi, will give the summer 2004 commencement address for his alma mater on Aug. 9.

Smith will address two groups of graduates at ceremonies scheduled for 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. at the James Lynn Cartlidge Forrest County Multi Purpose Center on U.S. Highway 49 in Hattiesburg, south of the Southern Miss campus.

Summer graduation exercises were moved to the center because of ongoing renovations to Reed Green Coliseum, where commencement is traditionally held.

"We're grateful to Forrest County officials and the staff at the Multi Purpose Center for assisting us with graduation ceremonies as we continue to make improvements to Reed Green Coliseum," said Southern Miss President Dr. Shelby Thames.

Smith was elected to the state Supreme Court in 1993. He graduated from Southern Miss in 1965 with a bachelor of science in history and political science. He received his juris doctorate from the Jackson School of Law in 1972 and was city prosecuting attorney for the city of Pearl from 1973-1980. In 1976, Smith was prosecuting attorney for Rankin County.

"We welcome Justice Smith to Hattiesburg as we celebrate another graduating class of Southern Miss students," said Thames. "We look forward to his address to our graduates and their families."

From 1977 until 1982, Smith served as district attorney for the 20th Circuit Court District, and from April 1982 until his election to the state Supreme Court, he served as County Court judge in Rankin County. He also served three years in the U.S. Army and four years in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Family, friends and others planning to attend the summer commencement exercises are urged to arrive early at the Multi Purpose Center to allow time for security measures, as bags and purses will be checked at the facility's entrances.

"These are precautions we see as necessary to help make everyone safe and comfortable at these events," said Southern Miss Police Chief Bob Hopkins.


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August 5, 2004 5:09 PM