TUPELO • Almost a year to the day after being sidelined by a stroke, Circuit Court Judge James Roberts has sent his letter of resignation to Gov. Tate Reeves.
The 74-year-old Pontotoc native has been a judge for more than four decades. He has served as a city judge, circuit judge, chancery judge and a state supreme court judge.
“I have served continuously as a Circuit Judge since December of 2007,” Roberts wrote, saying he had intended to serve out the remaining three years of his term.
“However, the stroke I suffered one year ago, coupled with my wife’s poor health, makes it mandatory that I go ahead and resign, effective Feb. 29, 2020.”
It will be up to Reeves to appoint an interim judge to serve until a special election can be held in November.
After graduating from Ole Miss Law School in 1971, he served as the Pontotoc County prosecuting attorney for 12 years. He was elected to chancery court in November 1987 and served five years. He then served on the Mississippi Supreme Court from 1992 until 1999. Following his term on the state’s highest court, Roberts became the Pontotoc Municipal Court judge.
Roberts was appointed to the circuit court bench in December 2007 and planned it to be a temporary stop. But he was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014 and 2018.
“I intended to serve maybe about a year as circuit judge and then disappear from that,” Roberts said in 2019. “I have continued to serve because I think I owe a debt for the state of Mississippi sending me to the Judicial College and to other schools.”