Woodard sworn in as new U.S. bankruptcy judge

ABERDEEN – Late in high school, Jason Woodard’s fascination with government and politics finally caught up with him by directing him to a political science major at the University of Alabama. Law school soon followed and shortly thereafter, a law clerk position opened his eyes to a new career goal.

RAY VAN DUSEN/MONROE JOURNALTAKING THE BENCH – Judge Jason Woodard was sworn in last week as U.S. Bankruptcy Judge of the Northern District of Mississippi. The former Birmingham, Ala. attorney fills the post left by former Judge David Houston III.

RAY VAN DUSEN/MONROE JOURNAL
TAKING THE BENCH – Judge Jason Woodard was sworn in last week as U.S. Bankruptcy Judge of the Northern District of Mississippi. The former Birmingham, Ala. attorney fills the post left by former Judge David Houston III.

“I knew in the first two weeks as law clerk that I wanted to be a bankruptcy judge; it felt like my calling,” Woodard said.
Serving under Chief Bankruptcy Judge Tamara O. Mitchell of the Northern District of Alabama, the experience gave him a broader range of experience in consumer and commercial bankruptcy.
“I saw the day-to-day impact bankruptcy has on people’s live and saw how she treated people. I hope I’ll apply the patience I saw from her and other mentors while bearing in mind it may be one of the lowest points of someone’s life,” Woodard said.
While working as a research assistant while attending law school at the University of Alabama, Woodard honed in  to focus on bankruptcy. Following his tenure working under Judge Mitchell, Woodard went practice with Burr Forman, LLP in Birmingham, Ala. in the firm’s business section.
During those years focused on creditors’ rights and bankruptcy matters, Woodard’s reputation earned him spots on the Best Lawyers of America and Alabama Super Lawyers lists.
He is also a past chairman of the Birmingham Bar Association’s Bankruptcy & Commercial Law Section and currently was also on the board of directors for the Birmingham Bar Foundation. Woodard is a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute and received the 2001 ABI Medal of Excellence.
“With any career, there has to be a willingness to work hard, learn and evaluate successes and failures and move forward,” Woodard said.
As with the bankruptcy court he now serves over, he has seen the case loads increase with the changing economic times.
“In late 2007, the private sector started to see a downturn and by 2008, I saw a difference in the volume of cases. Hopefully, we’re recovering but there are still a lot of people barely hanging on,” Woodard said.
At age 37, Woodard follows in the steps of Judge David Houston III, who took the bench as U.S. Bankruptcy Judge of the Northern District of Mississippi at a young age as well.
“I’ll never be David Houston. He is such a legacy locally and nationally. He’s been so gracious with his time and I can never repay him. I want to continue the standards he’s set here. My goal is to be considered a fair and efficient judge.
“As an attorney, I was an advocate with a responsibility to get the best judgment for my clients. As judge, I’ll evaluate both parties without an agenda to come to the best determination,” Woodard said.
Woodward was sworn in Jan. 16 as the new bankruptcy judge in a short ceremony. A more formal investiture ceremony is planned for the spring.
Coming to work in Aberdeen is like coming home for Woodard as he grew up in Jasper, Ala.
“My home is in rural Alabama and coming back to a small town setting is part of what made this job so attractive. Aberdeen feels comfortable to me,” Woodard said.
He and his wife, Stephanie, have three sons, all younger than 10.
“Without her support, I never could’ve accomplished what I’ve done in life,” Woodard said.

About Ray Van Dusen

I've been with the Monroe Journal since Aug. 2009 as a staff writer, but took the role as news editor in late 2012. I'm always looking for interesting story ideas from around Monroe County. You can reach me via email at ray.vandusen@journalinc.com.