DECATUR—Shortly after taking his oath of office, the newly-robed Circuit Judge Brian K. Burns spoke of growing up on a fruit farm on a dirt road in rural Neshoba County and a lesson his father taught him standing over a muscadine vine.

Burns, 39, is a lifelong resident of the Eighth Circuit Court District. He is the younger son of Bob and Beth Burns of Neshoba County.

He took his oath inside the Newton County Courthouse Friday morning.

Senior Circuit Court Judge Mark Duncan of Philadelphia administered the oath before a packed courtroom filled with Burns’ family, friends and colleagues.

Jon Martin, pastor of First Baptist Church of Union, gave the invocation.

Other speakers included Newton County Attorney Jason Mangum, Jack Wilson of Madison, presiding judge of the Mississippi Court of Appeals and friend of Burns, and Duncan.

Judge Duncan told those gathered for the occasion that he had known Burns for a number of years on both a personal and professional level.

“I know him to be a highly intelligent, sharp lawyer,” Duncan said. “I know him to have all the legal skills that are required of a lawyer to make an outstanding circuit judge.”

Duncan spoke of his personal relationship with Burns, telling those in attendance that they were both avid golfers.

“We’ve enjoyed a lot of great conversations about golf and time on the golf course as well,” he said. “Golfers will tell you that you can find out a lot about a person on the golf course. Golf has a way of exposing a person’s true character. As much as legal skills are required to do the job of judge, a person’s character may be even more important.”

Duncan said he had come to know Burns as a person of high character who possesses the needed traits of honesty, truthfulness, fairness, integrity and a genuine compassion for his fellow man.

What makes him feel best about the future of the Eighth Circuit Court, Duncan said, was a conversation he had with Burns a few weeks ago before he was appointed.

He recounted the conversation, noting that it was mostly about faith.

The two spoke about how God puts people where they are supposed to be, whether they know it or not.

“He puts us there to use the gifts he has given us to administer to those who are around us,” Duncan said. “Brian and I talked and he agreed with that assessment. He told me he trusted God to put him wherever he was supposed to be.”

Burns told those in attendance that he was completely overwhelmed by the appointment, noting that he didn’t get much sleep the previous night, thinking about what he would say after his oath.

He said numerous people had asked him how he felt in recent days. A conversation he had with his father years ago came to mind.

Burns said they were, once again, picking muscadines one September day near the road where they lived and, as usual, a school bus came through being chased by “two country dogs.” 

He and his dad often wondered what the dogs would do if they ever caught the bus.

After about three days in the row, the bus came down the road, “red dirt flying” and he and his father again pondered what the dogs would do if they caught the bus.

“Daddy said: I guess one of them is going to have to learn to drive!” Burns recalled. “Now, I’ve got to learn to drive it. Thank you all for being here. I am most appreciative.”

Burns’ father retired from U. S. Motors and his mother from Neshoba General hospital.

Duncan said he and Burns want to make the Eighth Circuit Court District the best, most efficient and most respected district in Mississippi.

“We want it to be a place where anybody who walks through the doors of this courtroom or any other in this district knows that they are going to be treated fairly,” he said. “We want them to know that no matter who they are or where they come from, no matter the color of their skin, no matter their standing in life, no matter their economic situation, no matter who they know or think they know, they will know that they will get a fair hearing in our courtroom.”

Duncan offered the new judge a few words of advice: “Hold on to the words of the oath that you are about to take. They are not just words. They are not just words that once you repeat them, they make you a judge. They are words for a judge to live by and I urge you to take them seriously, keep them close to you, keep them in your heart and live by them. If you do that, you will have upheld your oath and did the job of a judge that is required of you.”

After receiving a Bachelor of Science in agronomy from Mississippi State University, Burns went on to receive his Master of Science, with an emphasis on invasive species. In 2008, he was accepted into the Mississippi College School of Law where he graduated in 2011 with honors.

Burns resides in Union with his wife Robyn Watts Burns. They attend First Baptist Church of Union.

Debbie Burt Myers is the retired managing editor of the Democrat.