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Enterprise-Journal - Pierce: Judicial Experience Key to High Court Campaign

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Enterprise-Journal - Pierce: Judicial Experience Key to High Court Campaign

Karen Freeman

Randy "Bubba" Pierce has worked as a Certified Public Accountant, lawyer, state representative and chancery judge.

If things go his way at the polls on Nov. 4, the Green County native will be able to add another significant job to his resumé — Mississippi Supreme Court justice.

Pierce, 43, is in a three-way race for the Southern District 2 Place 2 seat with incumbent justice Oliver Diaz Jr. and Gulfport attorney Paul M. Newton Jr.

During a visit to McComb on Tuesday, Pierce said he's always had a strong work ethic — instilled in him by his parents. His father worked for a Gulf Coast shipyard; his mother, in a sewing factory.

He married his wife Gayla 25 years ago and, after stints working off-shore and other labor-intensive jobs, decided that both of them had to get a college education to lift them and their family of three children economically.

Pierce attended Jones County Junior College and received an accounting degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. He began working as a CPA, then earned a master's degree from USM. His next stop was law school at the University of Mississippi, where he was president of the law school student body. He practiced law for several years, before deciding his goal would be public service in the State Legislature.

So, Pierce set about the task of running against a 12-year incumbent in the 105th District who had voted against the state's Adequate Education Act.

"You're not going to win," was something Pierce heard more than once during that campaign. But he did win, taking 63 percent of the vote, even in the incumbent's own ballot box.

"I enjoyed serving the district for two terms. But I don't like what you have to do to run that race," he said, referring to big-money campaigning.

In the Legislature, Pierce went on to chair the House Education Committee and Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Education.
He also served on the Agriculture, Corrections, Transportation, Forestry and Judiciary committees.

His life took a major turn when Republican Gov. Haley Barbour appointed Pierce, a conservative Democrat, to the post of chancery judge for Greene, George and Jackson counties.

"I feel a little like Forrest Gump," Pierce said, adding that he has always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

Pierce said his experience as a chancery judge, in a district with some 8,000 cases on file, will serve him well as a Supreme Court justice.

"There is no chancery court justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court. But when most people experience court, it's through the chancery courtroom," he said, citing the many cases of family issues he deals with as a judge."In four years, I've gotten more trial experience than you would ever imagine. I don't have a law clerk; I write my own opinions, and some of them can be 50 pages long," he said. "Writing opinions will be a valuable experience on the Supreme Court."

In his chancery courtroom, Pierce said, "All have a fair shake and nothing more."

It's vital, he said, for high court justices to remain fair and impartial. And they cannot legislate from the bench. The campaign is about legal integrity, he said.

"It's a justice's job to interpret the law, not make law," Pierce said.

"If I wanted to make law, I'd still be in the Legislature."


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