Southern District Update

Terryl Rushing

Article by Terryl Rushing Featured Author


The District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi has honored several of its members this year.

Magistrate Judge Lakeysha Greer Isaac

First, LaKeysha Greer Isaac, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Millsaps College and a law degree from Emory University School of Law in 2000, joined the Court as its newest Magistrate Judge on January 5, 2021. Her swearing-in ceremony was held on May 20, 2022, in the courtyard of the Thad Cochran U.S. Courthouse in Jackson.

Magistrate Judge LaKeysha Greer Isaac

Magistrate Judge LaKeysha Greer Isaac, after being sworn in by Judge James Graves of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Isaac began her legal career with the litigation firm Forman, Perry, Watkins, Krutz & Tardy, PLLC. From 2003 until her appointment, Isaac served as an attorney and later as a senior partner with Cosmich, Simmons & Brown, PLLC. She has been named as a Mid-South Super Lawyer (seven times); Top 50 Women Attorneys in the Mid-South; America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators; and America’s Top 7 Figure Litigators.

Judge Isaac’s outside activities are many and varied. She served as President of her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, and was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa. She recently co-chaired the professionalism committee of the Mississippi Bar Association and as a member of its nominating and diversity committees. Isaac has also served as a past president of the Junior League of Jackson, chairperson of the board of Goodwill Industries of Mississippi, and on the board of directors of the Mississippi Children’s Museum. Following her selection, Chief Judge Jordan noted the national scope of her law practice as well as her many civic and community leadership roles. He stated: “LaKeysha is a nationally recognized litigator and a genuinely terrific person. We are thrilled to welcome her to the Court family.”

Carlton Reeves, Commissioner, U.S. Sentencing Commission

On May 11, 2022, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate District Judge Carlton Reeves to serve as a member of the United States Sentencing Commission, to fill the position and chairmanship left vacant by Judge Patti B. Saris, whose term had expired. On August 4, 2022, the Senate voted to approve his nomination, and he was sworn in the next day.

Chief District Judge Dan Jordan

Chief District Judge Dan Jordan administering the oath of office to District Judge Carlton Reeves as Chairman of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

The United States Sentencing Commission is an independent agency of the judicial branch, responsible for articulating and promulgating the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Those Guidelines replaced the prior system of indeterminate sentencing that allowed trial judges to give sentences ranging from probation to the maximum statutory punishment for the offense. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Commission lacked full membership from 2014 to 2022, when, in addition to Judge Reeves, six other members were nominated.

The William H. Barbour Conference Room

On August 21, 2022, the Judges of the Southern District formally dedicated the Sixth Floor Conference Room of the Thad Cochran Courthouse to former Chief District Judge William H. Barbour. The William H. Barbour Conference Room serves as the primary meeting room for the Judges of the Southern District. Portraits of prior members of the Court line its walls.

Judge Barbour

Judge Barbour’s family pictured with the plaque bearing his name.

Judge Barbour was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on March 15, 1983, to the seat on the Court that was vacated by Judge William Harold Cox. He was confirmed by the Senate on April 21, 1983, and received his commission on April 25, 1983. Judge Barbour served as Chief Judge from 1989 to 1996 and assumed senior status on February 4, 2006. Barbour indicated that he would take inactive senior status on January 4, 2019, meaning that while he remained a federal judge, he no longer heard cases or participated in the business of the court.

Judge Barbour died on January 8, 2021, at his home in Yazoo City.

Several members of Judge Barbour’s family attended the dedication, and longtime friend District Judge David Bramlette spoke at the event. He specifically praised the collegiality and professionalism brought to the Court by Judge Barbour and advised those present, when in doubt about a course of action, to “do what William would do.”

District Judge Kristi Johnson

Kristi Haskins Johnson was nominated to serve as a judge on the Southern District Court by former President Donald Trump on May 4, 2020, and her appointment was confirmed by the Senate on November 17, 2020. Judge Johnson received her judicial commission on December 1, 2020, and the Court held her investiture on August 22, 2002, becoming the first female to serve as a District Judge in the Southern District.

Judge Barbour

New District Judge Kristi Johnson, flanked by Judge Leslie Southwick (left) and Judge Sharion Aycock (right).

The oath of office was administered to Judge Johnson by District Judge Sharion Aycock of the Northern District, and she was robed by both Judge Aycock and Judge Leslie Southwick of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Johnson had served as a law clerk to both Judges.

Judge Johnson received her undergraduate degree at the University of Mississippi. She attended law school at Mississippi College, where she served as Executive Editor of the Law Review and graduated summa cum laude. Following her clerkships, Judge Johnson practiced law with the firm of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart for three years, after which she joined the staff of the United States Attorney for the Southern District. She later joined the Office of the Attorney General for the State of Mississippi, where she served as the first female Solicitor General.

The Court welcomes Magistrate Judge Isaac and District Judge Johnson and congratulates Judge Reeves and the family of Judge Barbour.