Hinds County Court Judge LaRita Cooper-Stokes died May 8
May 9, 2023
Hinds County Court Judge LaRita Cooper-Stokes died on May 8. She was 64.
A funeral service is scheduled for May 20 at 10 a.m. at New Hope Baptist Church, 1555 Beasley Road in Jackson. Visitation will be held May 19, 2 to 7 p.m., at Jackson Memorial Funeral Service, 1000 West Woodrow Wilson Avenue in Jackson.
Judge Cooper-Stokes was senior judge of the Hinds County Court, having been re-elected in November 2022 to a third term. She served on the bench for more than eight years. Her first term began in January 2015.
The Governor is expected to appoint a judge to the vacancy on the Hinds County Court. A special election is expected to be held in November 2024.
Hinds County Court Judges Johnnie McDaniels and Carlyn Hicks in a statement said, “We mourn the passing of our distinguished colleague and friend, Judge LaRita Cooper-Stokes. Judge Stokes served the citizens of Hinds County with integrity, compassion, and fairness while serving as Senior County Court Judge. Our prayers are with her family, friends, and the entire community of Hinds County as we all remember and honor her life and her distinguished service to others. We are grateful for the opportunity to have served alongside her, and we offer our sincere condolences to the Cooper and Stokes families.”
Retired Chancellor Denise Owens, who administered the oath to Judge Stokes to begin her first term of office, remembered her as deeply committed to the people she served. “She was committed to her community. She worked hard in her community.”
Before she took the bench, she provided pro bono service to those in need, Judge Owens said. “She had a real passion for helping children...and adults who are vulnerable.” Judge Owens said, “Any time that we asked, she volunteered and worked on our clinics” for low-income people.
Her early legal work included assisting the poor. She worked as a staff attorney for the Department of Human Services 1990 to 1996.
Retired Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie T. Green remembered Judge Cooper-Stokes as a beloved public servant and friend. “Her loyalty, wisdom and her integrity is unquestionable. She was a seasoned, firm and respectful judge....She took her oath to uphold our nation’s constitution and laws seriously. She was always guided by her faith and true Christian values.”
“The citizens of the city of Jackson and Hinds County loved her, and Judge Stokes loved them right back. She applied the law equally, regardless of economic status, sex, race, age, sexual orientation or national origin,” Judge Green said.
As a member of the Jackson City Council, “she utilized her legal skills to promote transparency and accountability,” Judge Green said.
Judge Stokes served as a councilwoman for the city of Jackson’s Ward 3 from July 2012 through December 2014. She was elected to the Council position previously held by her husband, Councilman Kenneth Stokes, after he was elected to the Hinds County Board of Supervisors. Kenneth Stokes returned to his long-time position on the City Council after Judge Cooper-Stokes took the bench.
Judge Cooper-Stokes was born May 27, 1958, in Jackson. She was a graduate of Lanier High School, Jackson State University and the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. She was admitted to the Mississippi Bar in September 1985.