Rare is the person who performs her job so well that it garners her a reputation as a leader and only superlatives such as the best and the greatest are used to describe her.
Carolyn Morgan is such a person. On Tuesday, December 20, the Copiah County Justice Court’s courtroom was filled to overflow; but the only business on the docket was to celebrate the retirement of Morgan.
She is an institution. Not only did she forged new ground for women as the first to hold this position. She was the first person and only one to serve as the justice court clerk (JCC) for Copiah County. She was a member of the first class of justice court clerks selected and trained by the State of Mississippi in 1982. According to Morgan, justice court clerks now perform the duties once handled by justices of the peace.
“They (the state) gave us two days of training. “We are required to receive 12 hours of training yearly. The training brought us up-to-date on what new laws were created or amended,” explained Morgan.
Justice Court Clerks receive their training from the Mississippi Judicial College (MJC) that is a part of the University of Mississippi’s school of law. MJC provides court education for Mississippi’s judicial system. Noah S. Sweat, Jr., a judge, legislator and law professor at MJC, created the school in 1970. The school is the first full-time state judicial education program in the nation. The Mississippi Supreme Court and the National Judicial College provided support for the organization building it into a model for judicial education at all levels. The school has a worldwide reputation and people from all over the world have been enrolled in the school.
“The county gave me an antique desk and a new typewriter to start the office,” laughed Morgan. “We moved four times to several places including the Henley Building that now houses the chancery court building before landing were we are now about 10 to 12 years ago,” Morgan recalled.
Representative Greg Holloway and the Board of Supervisors presented Morgan with resolutions extolling her character as a wonderful human being; and the excellent quality of the work she has done for the last 28 years. Morgan and Rep. Holloway joined together to work on the state’s garnishment laws. “We use to collect the money from garnishments; and, then, distribute it to the plaintiffs. With this law the money is paid directly to the plaintiff,” Morgan stated.
She did it with determination. “When I interviewed for this position, my lack of experience in judicial system was apparent to the person who interviewed me. Mike Keys who was the county administrator at the time noticed that I did not have experience. I was surprised when I got the job. I kept thinking, ‘I have got to do this. I have got to do this,’” Morgan remembered.
According to Morgan, she was told that two things mattered the most: accountability and attention to details. She has passed that knowledge on to Carr.