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Commission Members & Staff

Commission Members

Judge David Ryan Bruhl, Chairman

David Ryan Bruhl is a partner in the law firm of Foxworth, Shepard & Bruhl, P.A., in Columbia, Mississippi. He graduated cum laude in 2011 from the Mississippi College School of Law, and has worked in private practice since that time. Ryan began his career in Tylertown, Mississippi, and in 2018, joined Foxworth & Shepard in Columbia. His areas of expertise include real estate law, probate law, estate planning and trusts, and corporations.  In 2014, Ryan was appointed Municipal Judge by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of Tylertown, and in 2015, he was elected as one of the Justice Court Judges for Walthall County.  In 2018, Chancellor Debbra K. Halford appointed Ryan to serve as Family Master, Special Master for Commitments and Youth Court Referee for Walthall County. Ryan remains actively involved in various community development projects. He is a Past President of the Walthall County Chamber of Commerce, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Walthall County Dairy Festival and Christmas in the Park. Ryan is also a member of the Varnel Masonic Lodge and previously served on the Board of Directors of the Southwest Mississippi Community College Alumni Association. Ryan is married to the former Jennifer Stringer, and they are the parents of two children, Jackson and Jennie Claire. He and his family attend Tylertown Baptist Church.

Col. (R) Silvanus Johnson, Vice-Chairman

Col. Johnson is a retired Medical Services Officer, Special Education and Biology learning strategy teacher at Mendenhall High School, Mendenhall, Mississippi.  He earned the Mississippi Meritorious Service Award and was named teacher of the year for the 2013-2014 school year. He is a graduate of Jackson State University and was the Senior Assistant Professor of the Military Science Department there.  Col. Johnson was the first African American, enlisted soldier, to enter the Mississippi Army National Guard.  In addition, he is the first and only African American member of the Board of Directors for the Mississippi Military Museum at Camp Shelby, being appointed to that post by Mississippi's first African American Adjutant General, Gen. Augustus Leon Collins.  Col. Johnson is a life member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. being selected as the Brother of the Year, obtaining the Outstanding Achievement Award, and many more honorable awards.  He is married and the father of two adult daughters and serves as a deacon and treasurer for the Sylvarena Missionary Baptist Church.  He currently serves the Commission as an alternate lay member.

Judge Smith Murphey 

Elected in 2010, Judge Smith Murphey serves in the Seventeenth Circuit Court District, comprised of DeSoto, Panola, Tallahatchie, Tate, and Yalobusha counties, and presides over civil and criminal trials occurring in eight courthouses. While a member of the bench, Murphey has been elected by his peers to serve as Secretary-Treasurer, Vice-Chair, and Chair of the Circuit Court Judges Conference. In 2018, Murphey was appointed by the Supreme Court of Mississippi to serve on the Complaint Tribunal of the Mississippi Bar presiding over attorney disciplinary matters. In 2020, Murphey was also appointed by the Supreme Court of Mississippi to serve on the Judicial Performance Commission of the state judiciary presiding over judicial disciplinary matters. Murphey, a graduate of the National Judicial College, has also served as faculty on numerous continuing judicial education programs.

Prior to assuming the bench, Murphey served as an assistant district attorney in the Seventeenth Circuit Court District for almost 15 years. He is a former president of the Mississippi Prosecutors Association and also a former president of the Prosecutors Section of the Mississippi Bar. As an ADA, Murphey taught trial techniques and constitutional law to fellow prosecutors for the National Advocacy Center and the National District Attorneys Association. He also was a faculty instructor at the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officer’s Training Academy, teaching constitutional law. As a prosecutor, Murphey served on numerous task forces including the Project Safe Childhood Task Force, which was organized by the Department of Justice to fight internet predators. In 2009, Murphey was appointed by Justice Ann Lamar to serve on the Mississippi Board of Bar Admissions, where he served subsequent terms until 2017. Before he began his career as a prosecutor, Murphey served as a law clerk for former Supreme Court of Mississippi Justice James L. Roberts Jr. of Pontotoc.

Murphey is a 1990 graduate from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration. He graduated from Mississippi College School of Law in 1994 and was admitted to the bar that year. Murphey is also a member of the District of Columbia Bar, and in 2015, was admitted as a member of the Bar for the Supreme Court of the United States.

Murphey resides in Batesville and is married to Carole Estes Murphey, research counsel for the Mississippi Judicial College at the University of Mississippi. The Murpheys have three children. Serving in his community, Murphey is a long-time volunteer at the Panola County Food Pantry, a Paul Harris Fellow and member of the Batesville Rotary Club. In 1982 Murphey was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout and currently serves as an Assistant Scoutmaster for Boy Scouts of America, Troop 478, of which his sons are both Eagle Scouts. Murphey has also served as an elder, deacon, and trustee for the Batesville Presbyterian Church.

Judge Jim Persons

Judge Persons was elected as a chancellor of the Eighth Chancery District of Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties in November 2002 and took office in January 2003. He practiced law in Jackson from 1967 until 1974, then moved his practice to the Gulf Coast. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Millsaps College, a Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law, and a L.L.M. in taxation from New York University. He is a past president of the Harrison County Bar Association and the Russell-Blass-Walker Chapter of the American Inns of Court. He was inducted as a Fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation in 2011 and received the Mississippi Bar Distinguished Service Award in 2017.

Cornelia Gayden 

Ms. Gayden is an alternate lay member.  She is employed by the McComb School District as a Community Engagement and Communications Coordinator. Ms. Gayden is a graduate of Louisiana State University where she played basketball.  After graduation, she played professional basketball in the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Ms. Gayden also played in the USA Basketball Select Team World University Games in Fuoka, Japan in 1995. She is a three time recipient of the Madeline Doucet Alumni Award awarded to the outstanding alumni of the year. She was also named Southeastern Conference Great in 2003, Women's Basketball News Service All American in 2000, Kodak Regional All American in 1994.  She is the 3rd all time leading scorer in the Southeastern Conference and the NCAA all time leader in 3 point goals (337).  Ms. Gayden is very active in her community serving on the advisory board for the McComb School District, the Mayor's Youth Council Committee, fundraiser committee chair for the Pine Grove Community Center.  Ms. Gayden founded the Rainin' Three Leadership Academy and Rainin' Three Hoop School. She has also been a member of the Kiwanis Club, the Pike County Arts Council, the Southwest Medical Foundation, and the Pike County Chamber of Commerce.

Patricia W. Bennett, Esquire


Patricia W. Bennett was the Dean of the Mississippi College School of Law and the Henry Vaughan Watkins and Selby Watkins McRae Professor of Law. A Forest native and Mississippi College Law graduate, Bennett dedicated her career to the law and legal profession. She’s spent 27 years teaching at the law school in downtown Jackson.

Dean Bennett’s areas of expertise are litigation, criminal law and procedure. Bennett serves as the director of the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Center at MC Law. She teaches trial practice, mediation, advocacy and criminal procedure. The Tougaloo College graduate will give up her teaching duties temporarily while serving as dean.

Before joining the MC Law faculty in 1989, Bennett worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice. Her government service also includes stints as Assistant District Attorney for Hinds and Yazoo counties and as a Special Assistant Attorney General with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office in Jackson. For eight years, Bennett served as a JAGC officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and the Mississippi National Guard.

Bennett’s numerous professional affiliations include being elected a Fellow of the American Bar Association Foundation in 2015. Created in 1955, the ABA group is an honorary organization of attorneys, judges and legal scholars. Bennett is a member of the Mississippi Bar Association, the Magnolia Bar Association and the Mississippi Women Lawyers Bar Association. She was named the Distinguished Professor of the Year in 2014, the university’s highest teaching award. She is the outgoing president of the Charles Clark Chapter of the American Inn of Court in Jackson. Bennett has served as a visiting law professor at Harvard, Emory and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Dean Bennett was elected in January 2017 to serve as President of the Mississippi Bar. She served as President-Elect of the Mississippi Bar from July 2017 to July 2018 and was sworn in as President in July 2018 by Chief Justice William Waller, Jr. of the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Patricia Bennett and her husband, Claude, a building contractor, are Clinton residents. She worships at Morning Star Baptist Church in Jackson.


Alternate Commission Members 

Judge Edwin Y. Hannan

Judge Hannan also was reelected on Oct. 28 as chairman of the Conference of County Court Judges. Officers of the Conference of County Court Judges were elected by their colleagues during the Fall Trial and Appellate Judges Conference in Jackson. Judge Hannan, of Madison, has served as conference chairman since 2015.

Judge Hannan began his service as Madison County Court Judge in January 2007. He previously served for more than nine years as Madison Municipal Judge. He practiced law for 25 years before he was elected to the Madison County Court bench. He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Judge Stanley A. Sorey

Judge Sorey has served on the 13th Circuit Court bench since January 2016. He is senior judge of the district that includes Covington, Jasper, Simpson and Smith counties. He was in private law practice for more than 16 years before he was elected Circuit Judge. He served as Smith County Prosecutor and municipal prosecutor for the towns of Mize and Taylorsville. He was board attorney for the Smith County Board of Supervisors for 10 years. He was president of the Smith County Bar Association for 14 years.

Judge Sorey served for six years in the Mississippi National Guard, including active duty during Operation Desert Storm.

Judge Sorey earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Mississippi College and a law degree from Mississippi College School of Law. He also attended Jones County Junior College, Copiah-Lincoln Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Judge Stephen T. Bailey

Judge Bailey has served as a chancellor of the First Chancery District since Feb. 1, 2018. Judge Bailey was appointed to a vacancy, then elected to a full term in November 2018. The First Chancery District includes Alcorn, Itawamba, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Tishomingo and Union counties. He previously served as a prosecutor in Lee County Youth Court and Tupelo Municipal Court. He began his private law practice in 1996. He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Judge Richelle Lumpkin

Judge Lumpkin obtained her Juris Doctorate from Mississippi College School of Law in 1990.  She was in private practice for 20 years focusing her practice in the areas of criminal defense, family law, personal injury, real estate and general litigation.  During this time she also served as Youth Court Referee and Municipal Court Judge.  In November of 2010 she was elected as the first County Court Judge of Pearl River County.  She was subsequently re-elected in 2014.  Judge Lumpkin is a member of the Mississippi Bar Association, the Pearl River Bar Association and a past member of the Mississippi Board of Bar Commissioners. Judge Lumpkin serves as the alternate County Court member for the Commission.

Judge Wes Curry

Judge Curry was elected as a Forrest County Justice Court Judge in 2011. He was appointed as Hattiesburg Municipal Judge in August 2017. He practices law with Curry & Curry PLLC in Hattiesburg, MS. Judge Curry served as president of both the Hattiesburg Area Young Lawyers and the South Central Mississippi Bar Association. He serves as the SCMBA representative on the board of Mississippi Legal Services, and on the Mississippi Board of Bar Commissioners. Judge Curry attended the University of Mississippi for both undergraduate and law school. During law school, he served as a law clerk for Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Michael Sullivan. He later served as a law clerk for Judge Billy Bridges of the Mississippi Court of Appeals. Judge Curry is a member of First Presbyterian Church, where he has served as a deacon and currently serves as an elder. Judge Curry serves the Commission as the alternate Justice Court Judge member.

Jeffery M. Adcock 

Jeffery Adcock is a native of Biloxi, Mississippi and graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Administration.  After earning a Masters of Business Administration, he moved to Jackson, Mississippi.  After a career in state government that included a variety of positions and responsibilities in several different agencies, he became the Director of Administration for the State Auditor=s Office.  After serving in this position under four different State Auditors, Mr. Adcock retired from state government in 2009.  After retirement from state government, Mr. Adcock has been involved in real estate management and investment.  Mr. Adcock serves the Commission as a lay member.

Robert (Bob) Graves

Bob graduated from Winona High School, Mississippi State University, and Mississippi College School of Law. He was a Senior Vice President with Merrill Lynch in the Jackson office and retired in 2002. He currently serves as an Arbitrator of Disputes for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). In addition, Bob raises Angus cattle on his farm in Carroll County. As a Rotarian he is recognized as a multiple Paul Harris Fellow, a Paul Harris Society Member, a Major Donor, and a Rotary Foundation Benefactor.  He is a member of the Winona Rotary Club. He served as District Governor in 2011-12. He is a veteran and has been a member of American Legion Post 52 since 1969.  He is a member of the Post Oratorical Committee and the Boys State Committee. He serves as an alternate member of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance. Bob is married to the former Carole Watts. They are members of the First Baptist Church of Winona.

Jennifer Ingram Johnson, Esquire

Jennifer Ingram Johnson practices with her mentor and father, Carroll H. Ingram, as the law firm of Ingram, PLLC, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Jennifer earned her Juris Doctorate from the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky in 1998, and since that time has concentrated her litigation practice in the fields of Catastrophic Personal Injury, Medical Negligence, Commercial and Business Torts, Consumer Fraud, Product Liability, National Multi-District Litigation, and Eminent Domain. In 2013, Jennifer completed the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation, a 40-hour legal training course in problem solving and negotiation skills and has since that time continually met the standards for inclusion in the Mississippi Bar Association’s Mediator Directory. Jennifer is actively involved in the Mississippi Bar Association, the Mississippi Association for Justice, and the American Association for Justice, and has held leadership positions in each. She currently serves as Chair of the Committee for Professional Responsibility with the Mississippi Bar. Jennifer has been accepted into membership by ABOTA, the American Board of Trial Advocates, as one of the youngest female members nationwide, and has already become actively involved in promoting ABOTA’s national program, Civility Matters. Jennifer is frequently invited as a guest lecturer and presenter at Continuing Legal Education programs and at State-wide Association meetings. In addition to her Professional Association activities, Jennifer serves her local community as Chair of the Advisory Board for the Children’s Center for Communication and Development. Before attending law school, Jennifer received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Minor in Music from The University of Mississippi in 1993. She currently resides in Hattiesburg, Mississippi with her husband, Dr. Wes Johnson and her two daughters, Aubrie Ann and Alleigh.




Commission Staff

Executive Director

Rachel L. Wilson, Esquire

Senior Staff Attorney

Ashley May, Esquire 

Staff Attorney

Open, Esquire

Chief Investigator

Danny L. Perry

Office Manager / Administrative Assistance 

Hunter Buxton 



P. O. Box 668
Madison, MS 39130
Telephone: (601) 359-1273
Facsimile: (601) 354-6277