The first chief judge of the Mississippi Court of Appeals is receiving the 1997 Distinguished Jurist Award of Mississippi State University's Pre-Law Society.
Judge John J. Fraiser Jr. of Greenwood will accept the honor and deliver a prepared speech on a topic of his choosing April 22 in the Dorman Hall large auditorium. Prior to the 11 a.m. ceremony, a reception in his honor will take place 9:30-10:30 a.m. in the Leo Seal M-Club Building. Both are open to the general public.
During the afternoon, Fraiser and Pre-Law Society members will discuss contemporary legal issues at a roundtable in 115 Bowen Hall. Also open to the public, the 2-3:15 p.m. program is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences.
First presented 20 years ago, the annual award has honored a varied list of national and state figures. The first recipient was retired associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark. Among others have been Mississippi federal judges William Keady and Orma Smith, former Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, state Supreme Court Justice Lenore Prather, and former U.S. attorneys general Griffin Bell, Edward Levi and William H. Webster.
Fraiser retired Jan. 31 after more than two years as a charter member of the appeals court, which had been created by the Legislature to deal with a backlog of cases pending in the state supreme court. At his retirement, the accumulation had been relieved.
A Mississippi State alumnus and Minter City native, he joined the legal profession more than four decades ago after graduating from the University of Mississippi School of Law. From 1976 to 1983, he served in the state senate, where he held leadership positions on the Judiciary and Universities and Colleges committees. He also is a former Leflore County prosecuting attorney.
For additional information on the ceremony, telephone Pre-Law Society sponsor Diane Wall at (601) 325-2711.