The United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi is a federal court in the Fifth Circuit. It has jurisdiction over 16 counties in northern Mississippi and sits in Oxford, Mississippi. The court hears civil and criminal cases involving federal law, including civil rights cases, bankruptcy and Social Security appeals, and immigration cases. The court also has jurisdiction over certain appeals from state court. The court is staffed by one judge, appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate.
United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi
Appeals from cases brought in the Northern District of Mississippi are taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).
The United States Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. As of March 1, 2021[update] the Acting United States Attorney is Clay Joyner.
The northern district comprises three divisions.
- The Aberdeen Division comprises the counties of Alcorn, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clay, Itawamba, Lee, Lowndes, Monroe, Oktibbeha, Prentiss, Tishomingo, Webster and Winston.
The court for the Aberdeen Division is held at Aberdeen, Ackerman and Corinth.
- The Oxford Division comprises the counties of Benton, Calhoun, DeSoto, Lafayette, Marshall, Panola, Pontotoc, Quitman, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tippah, Tunica, Union and Yalobusha.
The court for the Oxford Division is held at Oxford.
- The Greenville Division comprises the counties of Attala, Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, Grenada, Humphreys, Leflore, Montgomery, Sunflower and Washington.
The court for the Greenville Division is held at Clarksdale, Cleveland and Greenville.
As of November 1, 2021[update]:
|#||Title||Judge||Duty station||Born||Term of service||Appointed by|
|16||Chief Judge||Debra M. Brown||Greenville||1963||2013–present||2021–present||—||Obama|
|15||District Judge||Sharion Aycock||Aberdeen||1955||2007–present||2014–2021||—||G.W. Bush|
|11||Senior Judge||Neal Brooks Biggers Jr.||Oxford||1935||1984–2000||1998–2000||2000–present||Reagan|
|12||Senior Judge||Glen H. Davidson||Aberdeen||1941||1985–2007||2000–2007||2007–present||Reagan|
|14||Senior Judge||Michael P. Mills||Oxford||1956||2001–2021||2007–2014||2021–present||G.W. Bush|
Vacancies and pending nominations
|Seat||Prior judge’s duty station||Seat last held by||Vacancy reason||Date of vacancy||Nominee||Date of nomination|
|3||Oxford||Michael P. Mills||Senior status||November 1, 2021||–||–|
|#||Judge||State||Born–died||Active service||Chief Judge||Senior status||Appointed by||Reason for
|1||George Adams||MS||1784–1844||1838||—||—||Jackson/Operation of law||resignation|
|2||Samuel J. Gholson||MS||1808–1883||1839–1861||—||—||Van Buren||resignation|
|3||Robert Andrews Hill||MS||1811–1900||1866–1891||—||—||A. Johnson||retirement|
|4||Henry Clay Niles||MS||1850–1918||1891–1918||—||—||B. Harrison||death|
|5||Edwin R. Holmes||MS||1878–1961||1918–1929||—||—||Wilson||seat abolished|
|6||Elijah Allen Cox||MS||1887–1974||1929–1957||—||1957–1974||Coolidge||death|
|7||Claude Feemster Clayton||MS||1909–1969||1958–1967||1966–1967||—||Eisenhower||elevation to 5th Cir.|
|8||William Colbert Keady||MS||1913–1989||1968–1983||1968–1982||1983–1989||L. Johnson||death|
|9||Orma Rinehart Smith||MS||1904–1982||1968–1978||—||1978–1982||L. Johnson||death|
|10||Lyonel Thomas Senter Jr.||MS||1933–2011||1979–1998||1982–1998||1998–2011||Carter||death|
|13||W. Allen Pepper Jr.||MS||1941–2012||1999–2012||—||—||Clinton||death|
Chief judges have administrative responsibilities with respect to their district court. Unlike the Supreme Court, where one justice is specifically nominated to be chief, the office of chief judge rotates among the district court judges. To be chief, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position.
When the office was created in 1948, the chief judge was the longest-serving judge who had not elected to retire on what has since 1958 been known as senior status or declined to serve as chief judge. After August 6, 1959, judges could not become or remain chief after turning 70 years old. The current rules have been in operation since October 1, 1982.
Succession of seats
- Courts of Mississippi
- List of current United States district judges
- List of United States federal courthouses in Mississippi
- David M. Hargrove, Mississippi’s Federal Courts: A History. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2019.
Senior district judges of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals