Two Distinguished Southern District of Mississippi Judges Retire

Terryl Rushing

Article by Terryl Rushing Featured Author


Senior District Judge William H. Barbour, Jr. announced last fall that, after thirty-five years of service on the Court, he would assume inactive status, effective Friday, January 4, 2019. Judge Barbour was appointed to the bench by President Reagan in 1983, and he served as Chief District Judge from 1989 through 1996. He is a Yazoo City native who earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, where he was a two-year letterman in football. Barbour graduated from the University of Mississippi’s School of Law in 1966, attended the Graduate Tax Program at New York University School of Law, and practiced law in Yazoo City with his father until he was confirmed as a District Judge. Judge Barbour took senior status in 2006, and he was succeeded in 2010 by another Yazoo City native, District Judge Carlton W. Reeves.

On January 10, the Court honored Judge Barbour with a reception attended by the Judges of the Southern District, Judge Barbour’s family and friends, and his staff, present and former, including nearly all of his prior law clerks. Senior District Judge David Bramlette, Judge Barbour’s roommate in undergraduate and law school, was the featured speaker. Judge Bramlette delighted the crowd with tales of their colorful past, while no doubt saving some stories for a more private venue.

Earlier in the day, at a meeting of the Board of Judges, Chief District Judge Dan Jordan thanked Judge Barbour for his service to the Court and to the Federal Judiciary as a whole. Judge Barbour noted that, when he first came on the bench, the judges barely spoke to one another, and he was very appreciative of the collegiality of the current group in the Southern District. It should not have to be said that the Court will miss Judge Barbour’s collegiality and his mentoring the judges who came to the Court after he did.

Also in January, Bankruptcy Judge Edward Ellington retired after having served on the Court since 1986, much of it as Chief Judge. Prior to his appointment, Judge Ellington practiced law and served for eight years as a member of the Mississippi Senate. Even before that, in 1966, Judge Ellington was a student at the University of Mississippi law school (in fairness, it should be mentioned that he received his bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State), where he served as chairman of the Law School’s Speakers’ Bureau. In that role, and to the chagrin of University officials, he invited then United States Attorney General Robert Kennedy to speak at the school. In that speech, Kennedy, speaking to a packed audience described the behind the scenes machinations surrounding the enrollment of James Meredith at Ole Miss. (Taken from an article from the August, 2012, CABA Newsletter, entitled “Reflections on my Interview with James Meredith,” by John Corlew.)

On January 22, the Mississippi Bankruptcy Conference honored Judge Ellington with a reception at the Old Capitol Inn, attended by family, friends, and numerous colleagues from the bench and bar. Judge Ellington’s wit and unfailing good humor will be greatly missed.