James A. Peden, Jr., known to his friends and colleagues by the nickname of “Jeep”, has been practicing law as a member of the Mississippi Bar for more than 48 years. Jeep has spent his entire professional career with the firm now known as Stennett, Wilkinson & Peden.
Jeep grew up in Jackson, graduating from Provine High School in 1962. At Provine, he served as Editor of the school’s yearbook. He was selected by his class mates as Most Oustanding and Most Intellectual.
He entered the University of Mississippi as the recipient of a Carrier Scholarship in the fall of 1962. Graduating in 1966, Jeep received the degree Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude, with a triple major in HIstory, Political Science, and Latin. Jeep ranked first academically in his graduating class.
Jeep was a member of the University Scholars for four years. He was awarded a Taylor Medal in Political Science and Latin. Jeep was elected to numerous honorary fraternities, including Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership). Jeep served as President of Pi Sigma Alpha (political science) during his senior year.
Jeep’s social fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, awarded him the James George Smith Memorial Scholarship, named after one of the eight founders of Beta Theta Pi.
During Jeep’s undergraduate years, he became associated with two of Mississippi’s most outstanding statesmen. During the summer of 1963, he served as driver and campaign aide to future Governor William F. Winter in Winter’s successful campaign for State Treasurer. During the summers of 1964 and 1965, Jeep worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D. C., as an intern in the office of the United States Senator John C. Stennis of Mississippi.
The United States government awarded Jeep a Fullbright Scholarship for post-graduate study in England. During the 1966-67 academic year, Jeep studied British Government and Politics at the University of Bristol, with an emphasis on the British Parliament. A scholar-athlete, Jeep was a starting forward on the University of Bristol varsity basketball team, winning “Full Colours”, the British equivalent of an American athletic letter.
In the fall of 1967, Jeep entered the University of Mississippi School of Law as the recipient of a Ford Foundation Law Fellowship. He served as Vice President of his class. He was a member of the Editorial Board of the Mississippi Law Journal. He was the recipient of the Mississippi Law Journal award for Best Comment.
After interrupting his legal education for military service, Jeep received the Juris Doctor degree in 1970 and began practicing law with the firm now known as Stennett, Wilkinson & Peden. In addition to practicing law, Jeep served on the staff of Williams F. Winter, who had been elected Lieutenant Governor in 1971, as Parliamentarian, Reading Clerk, and Documents Director for the Mississippi Senate during the legislative sessions of 1972-74.
As a practicing attorney, Jeep has represented clients in more than 150 zoning cases, including several cases involving major projects that have been significant in the economic development of local communities. His zoning clients have included major churches, universities, the developer of Renaissance at Colony Park in the City of Ridgeland, and such national corporations as McDonald’s and Harrah’s. He has represented clients in zoning matters not only in the Jackson Metropolitan Area, but in municipalities across Mississippi. He has represented clients in appeals in 18 separate zoning matters before the Mississippi Supreme Court. Since 2008, Jeep has been listed in Best Lawyers in America in the fields of land use and zoning law.
From 2009 through 2015, Jeep served as an adjunct professor at the Mississippi College School of Law, teaching the course on Land Use Controls.
Jeep has been active in the work of the Mississippi Bar, serving as President of the Young Lawyers Division, Chairman of the Mississippi Law Institute, President of the Fellows of the Young Lawyers, member of the Board of Bar Commissioners, and Charter Member of the Governor’s Judicial Nominating Committee. On the national level, Jeep served as Co-Chairman of the Law Day USA Committee of the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association. He is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, the Mississippi Bar Foundation, the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association, and the Young Lawyers Division of the Mississippi Bar.
Jeep is the author of multiple law review articles. In 2010, Jeep was listed in the Top Ten in Mississippi Business Journal’s first leadership in Law Class.
From 1968 until 1999, Jeep served the United States and the State of Mississippi as a member of the Mississippi Air National Guard. He served as Staff Judge Advocate for the 172nd Airlift Wing, based at Thompson Field in Jackson, from 1974 until 1988 and as Staff Judge Advocate at Mississippi State Air National Guard Headquarters from 1988 until his military retirement in 1999. Upon his military retirement, he was promoted from Colonel to Brigadier General.
Jeep is a graduate of the Air War College, the senior professional military education school of the United States Air Force. In 1991, the Air National Guard selected Jeep as the Outstanding Air National Guard Judge Advocate in the United States.
By appointment of the Adjutant General, Jeep served as a Judge on the Mississippi Court of Appeals from 2004 until 2012, serving as Chief Judge from 2008 until 2012.
The National Guard Bureau awarded Jeep its prestigious Minuteman Award for his contributions to military legal education. Jeep’s military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, and Mississippi Magnolia Cross.
In 2017, the Governor and the Adjutant General presented Jeep with the Mississippi Distinguished Service Medal, and in 2018 he was named the recipient of a Marquis Who’s Who Lifetime Achievement Award.
A member of numerous professional and civic organizations, Jeep was elected to the Leadership Jackson Class of 1991-92. A long-time member of the Board of Directors of the Millsaps Arts & Lecture Series, Jeep served as President of the Series in 2004-2005.
In honor of his law firm, Jeep recently endowed the Stennett, Wilkinson & Peden Scholarship in Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law.
In 2016, through the Beta Theta Pi Foundation, Jeep endowed the James A. Peden, Jr. Beta Beta Leadership Fund to provide financial support to undergraduate members of Beta Theta Pi at the University of Mississippi in attending fraternity leadership events.