Judge Baker funeral service Thursday in Charleston

Published 10:40 am Thursday, November 2, 2023

Retired Circuit Judge Andrew C. Baker died Oct. 31 at his home in Charleston. He was 87.

A funeral service was scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2, at Newsom Funeral Home, in Charleston. Interment will follow at Bethel Methodist Church Cemetery near Enid.

Judge Baker served for 32 1/2 years on the 17th Circuit Court, retiring on Dec. 31, 2010.

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Retired Supreme Court justices George C. Carlson Jr. of Batesville and Ann H. Lamar of Senatobia both practiced before Baker, then served alongside him before their respective appointments to the Supreme Court. Both described him as a model of fairness and even judicial temperament.

Carlson, who joined Baker on the Circuit Court bench in January 1983, said, “He was the epitome of firm but fair. Whether you were a lawyer or criminal defendant, he treated you with courtesy and respect and dignity. He was a very learned judge. He knew the law and applied it evenhandedly.”

Carlson said, “I just thoroughly enjoyed my 19 years serving together with Judge Baker. I’ve lost a dear friend and a colleague.”

Lamar was appointed to the Circuit judgeship that Carlson vacated when he was appointed to the Supreme Court in November 2001. She served alongside Baker on the 17th Circuit for five and one-half years, until her appointment to the Supreme Court. She also practiced before him as an assistant district attorney and district attorney.

“He had a huge impact on my career as a lawyer, as a prosecutor and as a judge,” said Lamar. “He was kind. He was smart. He had a wonderful judicial temperament.”

She said, “I learned so many lessons from him and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to practice before him and work alongside him. He will be greatly missed.”

Baker was elected in June 1978 to the district that included DeSoto, Panola, Tallahatchie, Tate and Yalobusha counties. (DeSoto County became a separate district in January 2023.) Incumbent Judge Dick Thomas, who was ill and had not sought re-election, retired shortly after Baker won the runoff election, and Gov. Cliff Finch appointed Baker to finish the unexpired term. Baker began his first elected term in January 1979, Carlson recalled. Baker never faced another opponent for election.

Andrew C. Baker was born Sept. 29, 1936, in Coaldale, W.V., to Jesse and Vessie Baker. He graduated from Bramwell High School in 1954. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on Sept. 3, 1954, at age 17, and served for four years, until his honorable discharge.

He came to Mississippi in 1957, and graduated from Northwest Community College in 1962. He graduated from Delta State University in 1964, then earned a Juris Doctorate in 1966 from the former Jackson School of Law, now Mississippi College School of Law. He was admitted to the Mississippi Bar in 1966, and joined the law practice of Blount, Tennyson and Baker.