By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – U.S. Attorney Felicia Adams’ chances for a federal judgeship soared Tuesday with President Barack Obama’s re-election.
Without his win, her chances were virtually zero – with a Republican president likely to hold an entirely different list of judicial choices.
Adams, 52, became north Mississippi’s top government attorney in July 2011, the state’s first black woman to hold that post.
The Holly Springs native came under official scrutiny for the judgeship after the sudden death of Greenville-based U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper Jr.
Last July, a person close to the selection process confirmed to the Daily Journal that she was under review by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
She and the U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment.
Federal district and appellate judges are appointed for life, while U.S. attorneys serve at the will and pleasure of the president and his political allies.
Besides a presidential nomination, Pepper’s successor will need approval from the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and then the full Senate.
She cleared those two hurdles to become U.S. attorney with the laudatory support of Mississippi’s Republican senators, Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker.
Adams also had the crucial support of the state congressional delegation’s only Democrat, Rep. Bennie Thompson.
But this judicial nomination must stand on its own merits.
Rick Curtsinger, a spokesman for Wicker, said Thursday the senator’s office isn’t aware of any new activity on the judicial seat and doesn’t expect any until after the new Senate is in place soon after the new year.
Any nominations that aren’t acted upon by Dec. 31 must start over again.
If Adams becomes the next north Mississippi federal judge, Obama must look for a new U.S. attorney to manage a staff of lawyers who handle criminal and civil cases on the government’s behalf.
Adams replaced Bush appointee James Greenlee, but it took about 18 months to fill the post because of local controversies about possible candidates.
Before she came to the Oxford-based post, Adams was a top assistant U.S. attorney in the Jackson-based Southern District.