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Chief Judge Barnes honored as trailblazer

Mississippi Court of Appeals Chief Judge Donna M. Barnes, the first woman Chief Judge of the state Court of Appeals, is the recipient of the 2019 Susie Blue Buchanan Award. The annual award, presented by the Mississippi Bar’s Women in the Profession Committee, honors an outstanding woman lawyer who has achieved professional excellence and has actively paved the way to success for other women lawyers.

The award is named for Susie Blue Buchanan of Brandon, who in 1916 became the first woman lawyer qualified to practice before the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph named Chief Judge Barnes to lead the Court of Appeals on Feb. 1. She also was the first woman Presiding Judge of the intermediate appellate court. She has served on the Court of Appeals for 15 years.

Chief Judge Barnes grew up in Natchez. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1982 from the University of Mississippi, summa cum laude, with majors in classical civilizations and English. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1985. She is a member of the University of Mississippi Lamar Order. She practiced law in Tupelo with the firm of Mitchell, McNutt and Sams for more than 18 years. A member of Magdalene College, she earned her Master of Law from the University of Cambridge in 1997.

Chief Judge Barnes is a member of the Mississippi Judicial College Board of Governors and the Criminal Code Revision Consulting Group. She is a fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation. She is a former member of the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission and the Judicial Advisory Study Committee.

She is a member of All Saints Episcopal Church and the Mary Stuart Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, both of Tupelo.


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