CARRIERE, Miss. — A longtime south Mississippi circuit judge has died.

State Supreme Court spokeswoman Beverly Kraft says Robert “Rip” Prichard III died Saturday at 78. No cause of death was released.

Prichard retired in 2010 as Mississippi’s longest-serving trial judge. He was appointed in 1972 in a judicial district including Jefferson Davis, Lamar, Lawrence, Marion and Pearl River counties.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. credits Prichard for helping develop criminal court rules that the Supreme Court adopted last year. Prichard led a study committee that met from 2004 to 2010. Prichard won the state Bar’s award for judicial excellence in 2002.

Born in Atlanta, Prichard moved to Picayune in 1963 after graduating law school.

His funeral is scheduled Thursday at First Baptist Church of Picayune, with burial to follow.