By Patsy Brumfield
ABERDEEN – Bankruptcy Judge David W. Houston III will retire at year’s end with his replacement a 12-year business attorney from Alabama.
Houston, a former FBI special agent and assistant district attorney, has presided over the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Northern Mississippi since Congress created it in the early 1980s.
Jason Dwight Woodard, a bankruptcy attorney with the Birmingham, Ala., business law firm Burr & Forman LLP, was selected May 3 by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to succeed Houston. He was appointed to a 14-year term.
Houston’s impending departure will not go unnoticed, said Chief U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills in Oxford.
“Judge Houston has had a big impact on national creditor law,” Mills said.
Prior to establishment of the national bankruptcy court system, Mills said that area of the law was “chaotic” and often handled by legal referees.
He also said Houston helped develop that area of law and has a stellar national reputation among his colleagues.
Woodard holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Alabama.
His firm’s website describes him with “extensive experience in the representation of creditors in distressed debt situations, typically secured creditors in the bankruptcy, receivership, foreclosure and out-of-court workout arenas.”
Woodard could not be reached for comment. Houston was presiding over court in Oxford on Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.
Oxford attorney Nina Stubblefield Tollison, a former Mississippi Bar Association president, was on the judgeship recommendation committee. She declined to comment, other than confirming Woodard’s choice, saying she considered the selection panel’s activity confidential.
Woodard is a past chairman of the Birmingham Bar Association’s Bankruptcy amp& Commercial Law Section and sits on the board of directors for the Birmingham Bar Foundation.
A former federal bankruptcy law clerk, he is a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute and received the 2001 ABI Medal of Excellence. He also is an AV Pre-eminent Rated Lawyer, the highest peer rating published by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell, and was recognized as a “Rising Star” by Alabama Super Lawyers in 2011 and 2012.