Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Edith Jones says she will relinquish the "chief" title on Oct. 1, three months before her seven-year term was scheduled to end. Fifth Circuit Judge Carl Stewart will replace Jones as chief. Judges become chief based on seniority.
“I don’t really have much to say. I’ve tried to do what the job of chief judge requires. And I’m very happy to remain a regular active judge on the court," Jones says. She notes that she sent a letter earlier this week to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. to notify him of her decision to step down as chief citing “family problems.” Jones declines to explain further.
Appointed by then-President Ronald Reagan, Jones has served on the 5th Circuit since 1985. She replaced Judge Carolyn Dineen King as chief in 2006. In addition to handling administrative matters for the 5th Circuit, Jones has dealt with high-profile disciplinary matters that involved former U.S. District Judge Samuel B. Kent of Galveston and former U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. of New Orleans.
As for her feelings about turning over the chief judge’s position, Jones says: “I’ve told several people the story about the boat owner. The day he buys the boat is his happiest day until the day he sells it.”
UPDATE: According to a 5th Circuit press release, Judge Carl Stewart was appointed to the 5th Circuit in 1994 by then-President Bill Clinton. He is the second African-American appointed to the 5th Circuit.
The first African-American on the 5th Circuit was Judge Joseph W. Hatchett of Tallahassee, Fla., who was appointed to the court in 1979 by then-President Jimmy Carter. In 1981, Hatchett joined the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which was formed as a result of the “split” of the 5th Circuit. Hatchett served as chief judge of the 11th Circuit from 1996 until 1999, the release notes.
Stewart, of Shreveport, La., will become the first African-American to serve as chief judge of the 5th Circuit.
-- John Council