By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
Starkville attorney Lydia Quarles’ withdrawal from the Mississippi Supreme Court race makes for a two-man contest as the May 11 qualifying deadline looms.
“I was simply blessed with an epiphany,” Quarles said cryptically Wednesday, when asked why she’d pulled out of the non-party race she said she intended to seek last January.
The 59-year-old private-practice attorney said she isn’t ill, “which is what a lot of people have asked me,” noting her withdrawal “was for personal reasons.”
Still in the hunt are Richard “Flip” Phillips, 64, of Batesville, and Josiah Dennis Coleman, 39, of Oxford, who filed qualifying papers with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office.
Justice George Carlson of Batesville is the court seat’s occupant, but he announced in early 2012 that he’d retire rather than campaign for another eight-year term.
The seat is for District 3, also called the Northern District, which roughly covers the top third of the state.
To qualify, the person must be a registered voter in Mississippi, at least 30 years old, a practicing attorney and a state resident for five years.
Phillips made his mark as a corporate defense attorney but early in his career was well-known as a plaintiff’s lawyer. He is a former president of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers, now named the Mississippi Association for Justice.
He got into the race shortly after Carlson’s announcement.
Coleman, whom many knew as Dennis but he goes by Josiah now, announced his candidacy March 21 and describes himself as a defense attorney.
A resident of Toccopola, he’s an honors graduate of the University of Mississippi and its law school, and clerked for a U.S. magistrate judge after graduation.
His campaign literature notes he’s the grandson of the late Mississippi governor and 5th Circuit Judge J.P. Coleman and grew up in Ackerman, the son of former Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge Thomas A. Coleman and Dr. Frances Coleman, a longtime public school teacher in Choctaw County.
He and his wife, the former Ashleigh Burke, are the parents of a baby daughter.
Coleman practices law with the Oxford firm Hickman Goza & Spragins.