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Judge Donna Barnes reappointed as Chief Judge of Mississippi Court of Appeals



Judge Donna Barnes
Judge Donna Barnes (Administrative Office of Courts)

Chief Judge Donna M. Barnes of Tupelo has been reappointed to lead the Mississippi Court of Appeals.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph reappointed Chief Judge Barnes to the leadership position in an order signed on Dec. 5. The four-year term for the Chief Judge will begin Jan. 1, 2023, and end Dec. 31, 2026.

Chief Judge Barnes became the first woman to lead the state Court of Appeals on Feb. 1, 2019. Chief Justice Randolph appointed her to the leadership role on his first day as Chief Justice.

Chief Judge Barnes said, “It’s an honor to be reappointed Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. I view the appointment as an acknowledgment of the work ethic of the Court over the past four years. Our judges and their staff are committed to timely and diligent attention to our workload. It’s a great group of professionals.”

Gov. Haley Barbour appointed Judge Barnes to the appellate court on July 26, 2004. She was elected in November 2006 and re-elected in November 2010 and November 2018.

Chief Judge Barnes grew up in Natchez. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1982 from the University of Mississippi, summa cum laude, with majors in classical civilizations and English. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1985. She is a member of the University of Mississippi Lamar Order. She practiced law in Tupelo with the firm of Mitchell, McNutt and Sams for more than 18 years.

In 1996, she took a sabbatical to study law at the University of Cambridge, where she was one of three American students in the LL.M. program which that year admitted 152 attorneys from 48 countries. Her studies included international commercial litigation, comparative public law, international human rights, and law and practice of civil liberties. A member of Magdalene College, she earned her Master of Law from the University of Cambridge in 1997.

Chief Judge Barnes is a member of the Criminal Code Revision Consulting Group. She is a fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation. She is a former member of the Mississippi Judicial College Board of Governors, the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission and the Judicial Advisory Study Committee.

She received the 2019 Susie Blue Buchanan Award. The annual award honors an outstanding woman lawyer who has achieved professional excellence and has actively paved the way to success for other women lawyers.

She is a member of All Saints Episcopal Church and the Mary Stuart Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, both of Tupelo.

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