As one of the senior members of the circuit bench in St. Louis, Missouri, Judge Jimmie M. Edwards is more familiar than most with the issues surrounding urban crime and violence. Through his 23 years with the court, he has sentenced defendants to prison and, in some instances, he has seen the children of those defendants standing before him in the courtroom as well. His institutional knowledge of the courts gives him unique insight into the generational problems that lead entire families into the criminal justice system. He recognizes that our system of justice is merely one piece of a complex and precarious puzzle. At its best, government will dispense justice and hold the guilty accountable. But good governance also strives to seek out root causes for societal dilemmas, shows compassion when warranted and works to improve opportunity for the future generations.
Judge Edwards graduated from Saint Louis University in 1978 with an undergraduate degree followed by a law degree in 1982. From 1990 to 1992 he was on the legal staff of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in St. Louis, when he was appointed to the Missouri Circuit Court in the City of St. Louis. From 2007 to 2012 Judge Edwards was the Administrative Judge of the Family Court and Chief Juvenile Court Judge.
Rarely in government do we encounter public servants so thoroughly committed to the betterment of our society that they will make personal sacrifices, invent solutions and work tirelessly to help those unable to help themselves. After recognizing that his hometown of St. Louis was suffering from an unrelenting quagmire of juvenile offenders dropping out of school and cementing their path to lifelong criminality, Judge Edwards did what few people do; he resolved to attack the problem himself. Astonishing all onlookers, he secured partners, cut through bureaucracy and opened the Innovative Concept Academy in 2009; the first school in America supervised by a judge and dedicated to the education of juvenile delinquents.
Judge Edwards has also made a significant mark in the area of civil law. He has presided over more than five hundred jury trials and has handled important state litigation, including the Missouri Tobacco case. He is a member of the Missouri Supreme Court Civil Rules Committee and Chairs the State Judicial Records Committee. He has also served as a Special Missouri Supreme Court judge. When not in the courtroom or at Innovative Concept Academy, Judge Edwards is an adjunct professor at Webster University and Saint Louis University. Judge Edwards is a highly sought after national speaker. He has given keynote speeches at the Supreme Court of the United States, The United States Chief Justice Association National Conference, The American Bar Association Thurgood Marshall Section Conference, The National Bar Association Judicial Conference, The Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative Casey Foundation Conference, The New York State Judicial School Partnership Conference, Seattle Washington Center for Children and Youth Justice Conference and The International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law Conference in Vancouver, BC Canada to name a few.
Judge Edwards is featured in several national public documentaries including Education Under Arrest and Blood Brothers. He is featured in Tedx, Ideas Worth Spreading “Encouraging the Incorrigible- Smart on Crime”, TEDXSTLOUIS. And he received a Mid-America Emmy Award for his work in “Extraordinary Educator Jimmie Edwards”.
People Magazine named Judge Edwards its “Editor’s Choice National Hero” recipient in 2011, Ebony magazine selected Judge Edwards to its 2013 Power 100 most influential in America List and Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts presented him with the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence-one of our nation’s highest judicial awards. Judge Edwards was also awarded Honorary Doctor of Laws Degrees from Saint Louis University and Eden Theological Seminary.
He and his wife of 26 years, Stacy Maria Edwards, have three children, Murphy, Ashley and John. They are members of the Antioch Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri.