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FBI’s Jackson Field Office Announces 2011 Recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award

FBI Jackson December 09, 2011
  • Public Affairs Specialist Deborah Madden (601) 948-5000

The Honorable Judge James E. Graves, Jr., has been awarded the 2011 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award. Daniel McMullen, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) presented the award to Judge Graves during the Jackson Field Office All-Employee Conference on Friday, December 9, 2011.

Since 1990, the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award (DCLA) has been a principal means by which the FBI has publicly recognized the achievements of individuals and organizations who have worked diligently to prevent crime, drug and gang violence and to promote education in their community. Each of the FBI’s field offices selects one individual or organization each year to receive this award.

Judge Graves was nominated for the Jackson Field Office, FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for 2011 for his outstanding contributions towards community service and youth education.

The nomination for Judge Graves was written as follows:

Judge James E. Graves, Jr., was confirmed to serve as a Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on February 14, 2011. He is the second African American Judge on the Fifth Circuit, and the first African American Judge from Mississippi. He received his commission on February 15, 2011.

Prior to his appointment to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, James E. Graves, Jr. served as a presiding justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court. He was appointed to that court by Governor Ronnie Musgrove in 2001, and later won election to the court in 2004. Prior to serving on the Mississippi Supreme Court, Judge Graves served as a Circuit Court judge in Hinds County, Mississippi, for 10 years. He was initially appointed in 1991 to that position, and was later re-elected without opposition in 1994 and 1998.

Judge Graves is deeply committed to working with Mississippi youth. He has been recognized by a variety of organizations for his efforts in teaching, motivating, and inspiring young people. In 2009, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University selected him for the Maxwell Public Administration Award, which is given to alumni for their exceptional work in public service. In 2004, Millsaps College, Judge Graves’ alma mater, named him a recipient of the Livesay Award for his service to the college and the community. In 2002, the Mississippi Association of Educators presented him with the Humanized Education Award, which is the highest award given to a non-teacher. In 2001, Judge Graves received the Commissioner’s Award from the United States Department of Health and Human Services for his outstanding leadership and service in the prevention of child abuse and neglect. He received the Jackson Public School District’s Parent of the Year Award in 2001, and was the First Alternate for the state of Mississippi’s Parent of the Year Award in the same year. Judge Graves was named Champion Adopter for his mentoring in the Lake Elementary School’s Boys for a Brighter Tomorrow Program in 1991.

Judge Graves has extensive experience in teaching, education and community service. He has served as a Teaching Team Member of the Trial Advocacy Workshop at Harvard Law School. He has also held the position of adjunct professor at Millsaps College, Tougaloo College, and Jackson State University. Judge Graves has taught courses in media law, civil rights law, and sociology of law.

On numerous occasions, Judge Graves has hosted student groups and classes at the Mississippi Supreme Court and the Hinds County Circuit Court educating them about the legal system. His message to students who visit his court is always, “Stay in school, obey the rules, and choose your friends wisely.” Since 1991, Judge Graves has also coached high school, college, and law school mock trial teams, including the Jackson Murrah High School mock trial team that won the 2001 state championship. A renowned orator, Judge Graves frequently speaks at universities, schools, churches, and conventions throughout the country and, most notably, in his own state.

Judge Graves has always been committed to mentoring young people about the legal system and its process. Individuals close to Judge Graves state that whenever he mentors young people, he also includes the parent. As a validation of his mentoring, he is often approached by parents and students who thank him for taking the time to talk and listen to them, their sons and daughters. Judge Graves takes great pleasure in witnessing the positive paths “his” students decided to take. He encourages students to aspire to be more than just average. “Be the best that you can be,” he says, “which requires critical and analytical thinking.”

Judge Graves currently serves on the board for the Mississippi Children’s Museum, Board of the Mississippi Center for Education Innovation and the Greater Jackson Arts Council.

Judge Graves and recipients of the Director’s Community Leadership Award from other FBI field offices will be recognized and honored at a ceremony to be held in Washington, D.C. in the spring of 2012.

Honorable Judge James E. Graves, Jr.