Retired Mississippi Court of Appeals Chief Judge Billy G. Bridges died on Nov. 25 at his home in Brandon. He was 85.
A funeral service will be held on Saturday, Nov. 30, at 11 a.m. at Ott and Lee Funeral Home in Brandon. Visitation will be Friday, Nov. 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 30, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Interment will be in Floral Hills in Pearl.
Judge Bridges served on the Court of Appeals for 11 years. He was one of the original members of the Court of Appeals. He was elected in 1994, and the Court of Appeals began hearing cases in January 1995. Judge Bridges served as Chief Judge from January 31, 1997, until February 17, 1999. He was named Presiding Judge on April 30, 2004. He retired Dec. 31, 2005, but did not hang up his robe. He became a senior status judge and presided over cases in the trial courts as a special judge for many years.
Supreme Court Justice Leslie D. King served together with Judge Bridges on the Court of Appeals. “We became close friends as we worked together. Billy was a very thorough and considered individual in his work. He took his time in looking very carefully at the matters before the Court. He cared a great deal about his work and the people who came before the Court,” Justice King said. “He was also concerned about the judiciary and the appearance of the judiciary to the public. Billy was a fine example of what you would want to see in a judge. He is someone whom I’m happy to have known as a colleague and a friend.”
Court of Appeals Chief Judge Donna Barnes of Tupelo also served with Judge Bridges. “It was an honor to serve with him. The vast experience he brought to Court of Appeals deliberations was truly remarkable,” she said.
Before his election to the Court of Appeals, Judge Bridges served as a chancery judge of the 20th Chancery District of Rankin County. He was district attorney for the 20th Circuit Court District of Rankin and Madison counties, and Rankin County prosecuting attorney. He served in other legal positions including board attorney for the Town of Florence, the Town of Pelahatchie, the Rankin Medical Center, and the Rankin County School Board. He spent more than 38 years in public service, not including his work as a senior status judge. He practiced law in Rankin County for 33 years. Former Supreme Court Chief Justice James W. Smith Jr. was one of his law partners in private practice.
Judge Bridges grew up in Pearl. His family moved from Simpson to Rankin County when he was two. He graduated from Pearl High School in 1952. He attended Hinds Community College before going to the University of Mississippi, where he earned a bachelor of business administration degree in 1958. Judge Bridges pursued his study of law at the University of Mississippi School of Law and was awarded an LLB degree in 1961 and a Juris Doctor in 1968.
Judge Bridges served in the U.S. Marines during the Korean War, attaining the rank of sergeant. He went to college on the GI Bill.
Judge Bridges held membership in a number of prestigious legal organizations including Who’s Who of American Judges, American College of Trial Judges, Mississippi Bar Foundation, Mississippi Municipal Attorneys Association, American Society of Hospital Board Associations, Mississippi Hospital Board Attorneys, and the Mississippi Continuing Judicial Education Committee.
He was a member of Crossgates Baptist Church in Brandon and was affiliated with Gideons International.