FACTS & HISTORY
- The 17th Circuit Court District is comprised of DeSoto, Tate, Panola, Tallahatchie, and Yalobusha counties and currently has three Circuit judges.
- The recent growth of the district and the accompanying backlog of cases on the court's docket convinced the Legislature to add a fourth position.
- The Circuit Judge of the 17th District became a newly-created fourth judgeship which was authorized by the Mississippi Legislature in 2010.
- Selection of the state court judges in Mississippi occurs through the nonpartisan election of judges (except in the municipal courts, where judges are appointed). Mississippi was the first state in the union to begin electing judges by popular vote.
- The United States circuit courts were the original intermediate level courts of the United States federal court system. They were established by the Judiciary Act of 1789. They had trial court jurisdiction over civil suits of diversity jurisdiction and major federal crimes.
- Each circuit court can have several divisions, including circuit, associate, small claims, probate, family, or drug court. Each division hears cases within its particular area of subject-matter jurisdiction, and jurisdiction is based on the size or type of a civil claim or the severity or type of a criminal charge.
RESPONSIBILITIES & REQUIREMENTS
- The Mississippi circuit courts are trial courts that hear felony criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits.
- The courts also hear appeals from the county courts, the justice courts, the municipal courts and from various administrative boards and commissions such as the Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.
- To serve on this court, a judge must be a practicing attorney for at least five years; a minimum of 26 years old; a state citizen for at least five years; and a resident of the district represented.
Celeste Embrey Wilson
Judge Celeste Embrey Wilson is a lifelong resident of DeSoto County and has served as the 17th District Circuit Court Judge since her appointment by Gov. Phil Bryant in February of 2017. The 42-year-old Wilson is seeking to continue to represent DeSoto County as the Circuit Court Judge, District 17-1, Place 3. She served as Assistant District Attorney in 2002 and was then elected County Judge in 2009. Wilson was re-elected for three consecutive terms.
Wilson is married to Southaven City Administrator/CAO Chris Wilson and the couple has two daughters. Celeste Wilson is the former Membership Director for the Southaven Chamber of Commerce and has served as a volunteer with Make-A-Wish, YMCA and the Northwest Mississippi Community College Alumni Board.
Wilson was appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant on Feb. 1, 2017, to fill the vacancy created when Judge Bobby Chamberlin was named to the Mississippi Supreme Court.
Wilson was scheduled to run for election on Nov. 7, 2017, but the DeSoto County Board of Commissioners canceled the election and re-appointed her to the seat when no other candidates filed to run against her.
Wilson earned a Bachelor in Business Administration degree from Delta State University and a J.D. or law degree from the University of Memphis.
Wilson cites her efforts to improve the Drug Court program and her work required all participants in the program to acquire their GED to help participants have a better future and more opportunity. Wilson also cites her work with government officials to have a mental health court program to address the issues of mental health and crime in the region.
Little was born the son of public school educators, his mother an elementary school teacher and his father the high school baseball and girl’s basketball coach. Stan’s wife, Meredith, also a former public school teacher, is now a stay-at-home mom to their son, Griffin, and dog, Dixie.
Stan Little is the principal attorney in a criminal defense firm representing clients in DeSoto, Tunica, Tate, Coahoma, Panola, and Marshall counties.
In addition to his law practice on the Square in Hernando for more than a decade, Stan Little has a business background as well. He worked his way through law school at Ole Miss by starting a restaurant in Oxford which provided a means to support himself and other law school students. Little has also been a broadcaster, magazine publisher, newspaper columnist, and cotton merchant. In 2013, Little launched his most successful venture to date. Starting with a staff of college friends, four pilots, and three airplanes, Stan started Southern Airways, a commuter airline originally created to connect DeSoto County and the Greater Memphis area to the Florida Gulf Coast. Today, Southern has grown to be the third-largest commuter airline in the country, with over 100 daily departures across seven states.
Little is a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law and is licensed to appear in all local, state and federal courts in Mississippi and Hawaii.
DeSoto County needs a Circuit Judge with the experience and integrity to protect our community's values. That's why I'm announcing my candidacy for Circuit Judge. As an experienced prosecutor, defense attorney, business owner, husband, and father, I will work to ensure DeSoto County is a vibrant place for generations to come.
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