Merit panel weighs reappointment of magistrate

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – A merit selection panel will consider whether U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander should be reappointed for a new eight-year term beginning Nov. 17.
Chief Judge Michael P. Mills recently appointed the panel of seven attorneys and two lay members, and they will report their opinions to him.
All federal court cases in which these nine people are involved, and previously assigned to Alexander, have been reassigned to other magistrate judges in the Northern District of Mississippi.
Magistrate judges are appointed by a majority vote of their federal district judges, who have life terms and must be approved by the U.S. Senate.
Alexander of Oxford was the first woman to hold the position in Mississippi, appointed in 1994. She was admitted to the Mississippi Bar in May 1978 after earning her law degree from the University of Mississippi.
Law members of her selection committee are Randolph Walker, chairman, of Corinth, Brooke Newman Driskell of Oxford, Joel J. Henderson of Greenville, Tacey Clark Locke of Iuka, Daniel E. Morris of Cleveland, William C. Murphree of Tupelo and William F. Travis of Southaven.
Lay members are Thomas Griffith of Amory and George “Pat” Patterson of Oxford.
Alexander is a 1973 graduate of William Woods College in Fulton, Mo., and clerked two years for then-Chief U.S. District Judge William Keady in Oxford after graduation from law school. She was in private legal practice until her appointment as magistrate judge.
The U.S. district judges supervise the activities of the magistrate judges by assigning civil cases for jury or non-jury trial upon consent of the parties and for pre-trial matters. Similarly criminal cases are assigned to magistrate judges on the consent of the parties, except for the trial of felony cases.
Northern Mississippi’s other magistrate judges are Jerry A. Davis in Aberdeen and David A. Sanders in Greenville, who work with the three judges and two senior judges.
The current magistrate judge system was begun by Congress in 1968 expanding on the 175-year-old United States commissioner system.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.