Judge Cunningham leaves legacy of being firm, fair
Longtime justice court judge Ernest Cunningham, praised for his common sense, fairness and knowledge, died last week at age 67.
He served 30-plus years in Marshall County, the bulk of that as judge, plus one term as sheriff.
“I have lost one of my very best personal friends and coworkers in the court system in Marshall County,” sheriff Kenny Dickerson said. “We were very close friends, both in and away from court sessions. He is one of the best people and judges I’ve ever known.
“If you were fortunate enough to have known Ernest’s parents and other family members, you could better understand the many attributes he possessed, both in and away from the courtroom.
“His wealth of good common sense and knowledge of the law, plus his fairness and Christian love for all, enhanced his ability to serve those before him so well.”
County attorney Shirley Byers had similar thoughts on Judge Cunningham, her friend of many years.
“I was proud of the respect he always showed me as the prosecutor in justice court,” Byers said. “He will be missed by all of us at justice court, as well as the community.
“Judge Cunningham had a calmness when tensions arose while advocating for justice in the courtroom. He was knowledgeable of the law and procedures, firm in the courtroom and fair to all parties. His legal educational abilities and calmness will be missed.”
Cunningham served as justice court judge from 1983-1991 and then was elected sheriff, serving 1992-1995. He served again as justice court judge from 2000 to present. He did not seek re-election this year.
Sheriff Dickerson said Cunningham, no doubt, signed more criminal warrants for him than any judge in his law enforcement career.
“And I can’t remember a warrant Judge Cunningham signed for me that didn’t result in a conviction or guilty plea,” he said.
Dickerson said he will miss him as both a friend and a judge “more than words could ever say.”
“The legacy of Judge Cunningham will be remembered and cherished by many people for many years,” he said. “I thank God for letting me be blessed with such a great friend for so many years.”
Judge Cunningham’s funeral service will be held Saturday, Nov. 2, at 10 a.m. at New Dimension Salt and Light Ministries. J.F. Brittenum & Son Funeral Home is in charge. Burial will be in New Hope CME Church Cemetery.
For more, see the full obituary on page 2.