North region’s judgeship awaits panel vote, again

Jackson attorney Debra Brown waits on U.S. senators to fill a North Mississippi judgeship.

Jackson attorney Debra Brown waits on U.S. senators to fill a North Mississippi judgeship.

By Patsy R. Brumfield
Daily Journal

WASHINGTON – Jackson attorney Debra M. Brown’s nomination to be a North Mississippi federal judge must wait, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee decided.

The committee postponed her vote, which was on its agenda for Thursday, as well as votes on three other judicial picks.

When the nominations will come back up for a committee vote wasn’t immediately clear, but Chris Gallegos, a spokesman for Sen. Thad Cochran of Oxford, said it’s likely to be next week.

“It’s not unusual for the committee to allow nominations to hold over for more comment,” Gallegos said after the panel’s decision to wait.

The delay is normal, adds professor Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond’s School of Law, who is known for his interest in the nomination process.

“The first time nominees are listed, the GOP automatically asks to hold over a week,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the nominees. So, next week, there will be a vote, unless the committee does not have a quorum.”

If ultimately approved by the full Senate, Brown will become the state’s first black female federal judge.

President Barack Obama nominated Brown last May to fill the seat vacated in January 2012 by the sudden death of Judge W. Allen Pepper Jr. in Greenville.

The new judge will preside over the Greenville federal courthouse and bolster the work of Chief U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills in Oxford and Judge Sharion Aycock in Aberdeen.
Mills, Aycock, senior judges Glen H. Davidson and Neal B. Biggers, plus three magistrate judges, have been pulling extra duty while the nomination process moves toward a conclusion.

Even if Brown’s nomination will be taken up by the full committee before the Aug. 2 recess, Tobias predicts it’s unlikely to get a full floor vote before the Congress departs, “although it could,” he added.

patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com