A Certified Mediator, Senior Counsel Vernon Cotten offers Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to qualified clients. Vernon is also certified under Mississippi law to be a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL).
Prior to joining Taggart, Rimes & Graham, Cotten served the people of Leake, Scott, Newton, and Neshoba counties for 20 years as Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit Court Judicial District. Appointed by Governor Kirk Fordice in 1997, Cotten was the first judge to serve in the then-newly created “Place Two” of the Eighth Circuit District. The following year, he was elected to a full term, and then again to additional full terms in 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014. Upon his retirement in 2017, Vernon celebrated 44 years of public service.
Vernon received an undergraduate degree from Mississippi State University in 1959. Graduating from the Jackson School of Law (now known as the Mississippi College School of Law) in 1965, Vernon was admitted to the Mississippi State Bar that same year, beginning a legal profession that has spanned five decades.
Prior to having been appointed to the bench, Cotten enjoyed an extensive and wide-ranging career as a practicing attorney, which included serving as city attorney for the Town of Walnut Grove for 23 years; local counsel for a community bank for 18 years and attorney for a regional electric power association for 27 years.
Prior to becoming Circuit Judge he served as Municipal Judge for the City of Carthage for 10 years, was appointed as Special Judge for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians for 23 years and simultaneously served as Leake County prosecuting attorney for 18 years.
Most notably, Vernon is responsible for establishing the first certified Drug Court in Mississippi and is recognized by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP). Cotten presided over the Drug Court for 14 years.
Vernon has served on numerous committees and task forces. In 2013, Vernon was appointed, by Chief Justice William Waller of the Mississippi Supreme Court, to serve as a member of the Mississippi Department of Corrections Task Force Committee. This Committee was charged with studying the felony sentencing structure and developing policies aimed at improving public safety, ensuring clarity in sentencing and controlling corrections costs. In 2008, Cotten was appointed to the Commission for Study of Domestic Abuse Proceedings. The role of this Commission was to perform a comprehensive study of the statutes and rules relating to domestic violence issues and to identify and address needed changes. Cotten has also served on the Children’s Justice Act Task Force.
Vernon volunteers regularly with the Boys and Girls Club of America. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Beginning Again in Christ (BAIC) prison ministry organization and is a former original member of the Board of Directors for Bethany Christian Services. Vernon volunteers with the Mississippi College School of Law for the annual orientation for beginning law students.