Good Neighbor - June 2019
- Story by Lisa Monti, photos by Ellis Anderson
Trent Favre’s email signature includes this quote from television’s Mr. Rogers: “Anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me.” That line won’t surprise anyone who knows Trent and is familiar with his legal career and many contributions to our community.
Trent, who is both Hancock County Court and Youth Court Judge, was recently named the 2018-2019 Judicial Reunification Hero by the Child Welfare and Child Advocacy Committee of the Mississippi Bar Association for his efforts to safely reunite children with their families.
Earlier this year he was named a Champion for Children by the Commission on Children’s Justice.
With these latest honors, as with any the Hancock County native earns, he humbly shares credit with those “working in the trenches” to support him.
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The Bar Association award, he says, “really belongs to all the people associated with the court system. I can’t move the needle myself. It’s not just me.”
Trent believes it takes “a lot of hard-working, intuitive, out-of-the-box thinkers” to make things happen and get results. “It’s all about partnerships, working with people, listening and problem solving,” Favre says, “and a lot of training is needed, too. We’re not the best, but we’re trying to be.”
In December 2017, Gov. Phil Bryant appointed S. (for Samuel) Trent Favre as the first Hancock County Court Judge, citing his extensive legal experience, including working as Bay St. Louis city attorney, previous experience as an assistant prosecutor for Bay St. Louis and Hancock County Justice Court and many years at private law firms.
In accepting the appointment Trent said, “As a lifelong resident of Hancock County, it has been my greatest privilege to serve my community in various ways. I am tremendously appreciative of this new opportunity to serve and I will do all I can to be a faithful servant of the laws of our great state and country.”
Practicing law and serving the community go hand-in-hand in the Favre family. Trent’s father, Sam Favre, was an attorney who passed away when Trent was in high school. “He left a strong legacy of community service,“ Trent said.
He remembers his father’s clients who couldn’t afford legal fees leaving watermelons or collard greens in the family carport as payment. “My dad did not live beyond his means,” Trent said. “He thought it was important to be modest.”
Trent saw the legal profession as a way to provide service to the community and change things for the better. He graduated cum laude from Millsaps College in Jackson in 1996 with a bachelor of arts in philosophy and earned his juris doctorate from University of Mississippi School of Law in 1999.
In law school, he served on the staff of the Mississippi Law Journal, was chosen law school student body secretary and was appellate director of the Moot Court Board. Trent has been a member of the Mississippi Bar Association’s Commission on Character and Fitness since 2012.
Cathy Wilson, Community Coach with Mississippi’s Excel by 5 early childhood development program, worked closely with Trent on the Hancock Chamber Education Committee, which he chaired.
“He’s been a great supporter of things that really matter,” Cathy said. She credits Trent with initiating the Bookworm reading program and he was the first steering chair for Hancock County Excel by 5. “He’s very passionate about empowering teachers, students and families,” she said.
Cathy describes Trent as “a great father and mentor and a man of great faith.” He’s also super organized, with a penchant for notecards. “We tease him about it,” she said. “He is a very organized guy.”
Trent and his wife, Shannon, will celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary in August. They and their two children live in the Favre family home, built in 1859 in Kiln. Katie is 13 years old and Sam is 11.
“He is the sixth Sam to live in the house,” Trent noted. Trent credits his mother, Pat, for helping shape his religious beliefs and moral convictions, and to mind his manners and be respectful.
The Favres are members of First Baptist Church in Bay St. Louis where he was a Sunday school teacher for 15 years and sang in the choir. His feels his faith has prepared him for his job, especially learning to be compassionate and not dismiss people for their mistakes.
“Knowing I’ve got faults in my life, I can look at people and say we can get you on the right path. Every person is worthy of attention and concern."
Trent said his job is a two-for-one role. As County Judge, he can hear civil cases under his jurisdiction. Youth Court falls under the County Court umbrella, and this is where issues of families and children are resolved. “The goal was to get Youth Court under control. It’s where my heart is, to make sure it runs properly."
Trent said his judicial position allows him to harness resources to help people in the court system and form teams to help families get out of difficult situations.
“We all need to be working together to make sure that we’re getting to people who need help. That brings us back to partnerships with people who have done incredible jobs to help support the court and make it successful.”
One of Favre's first projects as judge was "Halls of Hope." Concerned that the courtroom was grim and forbidding, the judge engaged the help of local artists, who were provided with canvases and asked to paint something with a "hope" theme.
The 20+ paintings are now hanging in the lobby, the courtroom and the halls. Now when young people come in, they're surrounded with cheerful images instead of blank walls.
While the decision to leave private practice was a difficult one, Trent said it was the right choice for him.
“I love Hancock County and my job. It’s not a job because I totally feel like I’m able to do what I’ve always wanted to do, impact the lives of people in Hancock County. I look at it as a blessing.”