Wise Women: A Mother-Daughter Judicial Legacy Continues


Retired Judge Patricia Wise, who served as a Hinds County Chancery Court judge for nearly 30 years up until 2018, feared she would be too nervous to deliver the closing remarks at her daughter's swearing-in ceremony. So, she asked Senior Circuit Court Judge Tomie Green to do it instead. Wise passed the gavel to her daughter, Crystal Wise Martin, on Jan. 2. at an elaborate investiture ceremony that featured a serenade from an opera singer and a chilling tribute from a young, professional violinist.

Throughout the event, Wise sat at the front of the courtroom, where lawyers typically sit when presenting a case, except she faced the crowd. She frequently nudged her glasses toward the bridge of her nose as she dabbed the corners of her eyes.

Martin had come a long way to get to this moment and continue the legacy her mother began three decades ago.

"I just can't express it in words," Martin told the Jackson Free Press. "I feel as though I have a huge responsibility to the people who came before me. I know that they made tremendous sacrifice in order for me to have an opportunity to be here today."

Martin takes the bench as one of 40 new judges ushering in a breath of fresh air to courtrooms statewide.

The decor in courtroom 3 was a reminder of just how far Mississippi benches have come. Portraits of gray-haired white men lined the wooden walls in the room where Martin was took her oath in the company of the master of ceremonies, Judge Denise Owens, who came to the chancery bench with Wise in 1989; Tiffany Grove, who officially joined the chancery court hours after Martin; and Hinds County Chancery Court Judge Dewayne Thomas. Three women and one man now comprise the chancery court.

Martin said her mother's plight expanded

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