Mayor Toby Barker Announces Judicial Appointments

Mayor Toby Barker Announces Judicial Appointments

Hattiesburg, Mississippi – On Tuesday, June 4, 2024, Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker announced the appointments of Brian R. Bledsoe for Municipal Court Judge Post 1, Gay Polk-Payton for Municipal Court Judge Post 2, and Mary Moore Conville for Municipal Court Judge Pro Tempore.

Brian R. Bledsoe has served as a municipal judge since 2017 and has extensive experience including roles as school board attorney for the Marion County and Forrest County School Districts and Special Counsel to then-Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. 

“I am grateful for this opportunity to continue serving Hattiesburg. The Municipal Court, by and through its staff, has made tremendous progress over the past several years,” Bledsoe said. “It’s a testament to the leadership of Judge Wes Curry,  the Court Administrator Phillip McSwain and all of the valuable staff of the Hattiesburg Municipal Court. Our focus shall remain being one of the best and most innovative municipal courts in the State of Mississippi.”

Bledsoe holds a Juris Doctor from Mississippi College School of Law and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi. He is also involved in several community organizations, including serving as Vice President of the Municipal Court Judge’s Association and board member for the Hattiesburg Football Club.

Gay Polk-Payton brings 26 years of legal practice, including 13 years as a Forrest County justice court judge and 4 years as a Hattiesburg municipal court judge. Her career includes advocacy roles in the Forrest County and Perry County public defender’s offices and the 12th Judicial District drug court. 

“As a lifelong resident of Hattiesburg, I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve my community in an even greater capacity,” Polk-Payton said. “Municipal Court will continue to do our very best to ensure that the court system serves our citizens with efficiency and fairness.”

Polk-Payton holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law, a Master’s Degree in Business from the University of New Orleans, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and has served as a Commissioner for the Mississippi Bar Association. She is also recognized for her community contributions, receiving numerous awards including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major of Justice Award.

Mary Moore Conville’s career includes serving as Forrest County Prosecutor, City of Hattiesburg Municipal Court Prosecutor, and extensive private practice.

“The two prior mayoral administrations appointed me to serve in various capacities in Municipal Court early in my legal career, which remain some of my most fulfilling professional experiences,” Conville said. “I look forward to returning and it is a privilege to get the opportunity to work with HPD officers and staff, fellow judges, court staff, the City Council, and the Hattiesburg community. I will do my best to continue to make Hattiesburg a safe and just community for all.”

Conville holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law, graduating summa cum laude, and a Bachelor of Arts from Emory University. Conville is actively involved in the community, serving on the Hattiesburg Public Library Board of Trustees and the Pine Belt Community Foundation. She was honored as Hattiesburg Woman of Impact for the American Heart Association in 2023 and has raised significant funds for the Go-Red Campaign.

Mayor Toby Barker expressed his confidence in the new appointees, stating, “All three of these appointments bring extensive experience to maintaining and advancing a first-class municipal court. Judge Bledsoe and Judge Polk-Payton have been part of the forward-thinking transformation of our court over the past several years, and Mary Moore Conville has served as both public defender and prosecutor in two previous city administrations. I know they will continue fostering a safer community by holding offenders accountable and empowering our citizens to lead better lives.”

Exiting Judge Post 1, Wes Curry, also shared his support, saying, “I have served with Judge Bledsoe and Judge Polk-Payton for a long time, and I’ve known Mary Moore Conville all of my life. I’m very pleased with the judges Mayor Barker has chosen to shepherd the court going forward. They love Hattiesburg and will serve it well.”

These nominations will be added to the Tuesday, June 4, City Council agenda for ratification and confirmation. If approved, new appointments will begin this week.