2005 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Representative Fillingane, Franks, Moak, Upshaw, Snowden, Rogers (61st), Smith (59th), Weathersby, Baker (74th), Moore, Reeves, Stevens

House Concurrent Resolution 95

(As Adopted by House and Senate)


     WHEREAS, in a career spanning approximately 50 years, Mary Libby Payne has served Mississippi and its legal community in many outstanding capacities, overcoming many adversarial prejudices to reach the pinnacle of her profession; and

     WHEREAS, born in 1932, the daughter of well-known attorney and five-term State Legislator, Reece Bickerstaff and wife, Emily, and the granddaughter of Joseph Anderson Cook, the first President of Mississippi Normal College--better known today as the University of Southern Mississippi--and State Senator, Judge Payne was destined to achieve greatness by filling the shoes of her devout and precocious predecessors; and

     WHEREAS, excelling in high school, Judge Payne attended Mississippi State College for Women for two years before transferring to Ole Miss, where she earned her degree in political science with distinction in 1954; and

     WHEREAS, graduating at the top of her class from Ole Miss Law School in 1955, one of three women, Judge Payne's academic success earned her the opportunity to serve as Casenote Editor for the Mississippi Law Journal, as well as Chair of the Moot Court Board; and

     WHEREAS, Judge Payne began her law practice immediately after graduation as a partner in her father's firm in Gulfport, Mississippi, and subsequently worked for Henley, Jones and Henley before beginning her own practice in 1963; and

     WHEREAS, in 1964, Judge Payne was hired as legislative draftsman by Walter Sillers, then Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, working zealously in addition to maintaining her private practice until 1968 before being appointed as Executive Director of the newly created Judiciary Commission and subsequently, chief of drafting and research for the House; and

     WHEREAS, in 1972, Judge Payne received an appointment to serve as Assistant Attorney General, a capacity she fulfilled until 1975, when she became the founding Dean of the Mississippi College School of Law; and

     WHEREAS, Judge Payne stepped down as dean in 1978 to become a full-time professor, continuing in that position until 1994, when she took a giant leap of faith by running for the newly-created Mississippi Court of Appeals, which she won in the second primary; and

     WHEREAS, Judge Payne's passion for hard work was well matched to the new court's task of helping to clear the vast backlog of cases on appeal and merited her a second term on the Court of Appeals in 1999; and

     WHEREAS, having retired in 2001 from the bench, Judge Payne has imparted her infinite wisdom, expertise and proficiency to The Mississippi Bar by serving in various capacities on the association's internal committees; and

     WHEREAS, having memberships in many elite and distinguished  professional and civic organizations such as the American Judicature Society, Scribes, Christian Legal Society, St. Jude's Catholic Day Care Center, Women's Cabinet for Public Affairs and the Mississippi University for Women's Board of Alumnae Association; and

     WHEREAS, Judge Payne's illustrious career has afforded her the opportunity to be recognized and honored with many prestigious accolades, including:  Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in South and Southwest, Outstanding Young Women of America, Who's Who in American Law, Mississippi University for Women's Medallion of Excellence; Mississippi College Lawyer of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, Distinguished Jurist Award and Book of Golden Deeds Award; and

     WHEREAS, in the lighter years of her retirement, Judge Payne continues to share her knowledge with the legal community in addition to spending quality time with those closest to her who have supported her every endeavor, her family:  husband of almost 50 years, Bobby R. Payne; sons, Reece Allen and Glenn Russell; and grandchildren; and

     WHEREAS, it is with great pride that we recognize Judge Payne who has served the State of Mississippi with distinction as a legal ambassador for people, bringing honor and integrity to the legal profession, her family, home community, region and state:

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE SENATE CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby commend the career, contributions and achievements of Judge Mary Libby Payne as a just adjudicator and a legendary lawyer and extend to her our best wishes for success in all her future endeavors.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be furnished to Judge Mary Libby Payne and to the members of the Capitol Press Corps.