James Graves has dedicated his legal career to the philosophy of fairness and equal justice under the law. He has been recognized by numerous organizations for his commitment to the principle of "equal justice for all."
Judge Graves is committed to helping youth avoid crime and drugs in universities throughout the country. He regularly hosts student groups and classes at the Hinds County Courthouse, where he provides instruction to youth about the legal system. In this same vein, he has coached high school mock trial teams for more than a decade. In recognition of his ongoing efforts to support youth initiatives, Judge Graves was recognized as "Champion Adopter" for his mentoring in Lake Elementary Schools' "Boys for a Brighter Tomorrow" Program.
After working at the Department of Public Welfare, Judge Graves enrolled at Syracuse University College of Law, where he went on to receive his law degree. He also holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. He worked as a Staff Attorney at Central Mississippi Legal Services and, later, as a Special Assistant to the Attorney General. He went on to head the Human Services Division of the Attorney General's Office, where he served as Chief Legal Counsel to the Mississippi Department of Human Services. Just prior to being appointed a Circuit Court Judge, he was Director of the Division of Child Support Enforcement of the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
Judge Graves' teaching experience includes serving as an instructor at Harvard Law School, where he has taught Trial Advocacy for the past three years. In 1999, he served as Adjunct Professor at Jackson State University, where he taught both Media Law and Civil Rights Law.
Among other honors, the National Bar Association presented him with its first Distinguished Jurist Award in 1996. The National Conference of Black Lawyers presented him with the Judge of the Year Award in 1992.