The MLJ Fall Alumni Event will be held in the atrium of the Law School on Thursday, November 14 at 5:30. The Journal is proud to honor Judge Donna Barnes as our distinguished alumna. Judge Barnes is the first female chief judge of the Mississippi Court of Appeals. For more information on our distinguished guest, please read through her bio below.

Court of Appeals Chief Judge Donna M. Barnes of Tupelo was appointed by Governor Haley Barbour on July 26, 2004, to a vacancy on the Court. She was elected in November 2006, and re-elected in November 2010 and November 2018. She became Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals on February 1, 2019. She is the first woman Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals.

Born in Natchez, Judge Barnes earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1982 from the University of Mississippi, summa cum laude, with majors in classical civilizations and English. Judge Barnes obtained her Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1985. She was a member of Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity and a research editor of Mississippi Law Journal. Judge Barnes is a member of the University of Mississippi Lamar Order.


For more than 18 years, Judge Barnes practiced law with Mitchell, McNutt and Sams in Tupelo with concentrations in appellate practice, real estate, health care, employment discrimination, Section 1983 litigation and professional liability defense.


In 1996, she took sabbatical to study law at the University of Cambridge, where she was one of three American students in the LL.M. program which that year admitted 152 attorneys from 48 countries. Her studies included international commercial litigation, comparative public law, international human rights, and law and practice of civil liberties. A member of Magdalene College, Judge Barnes earned her Master of Law from the University of Cambridge in 1997.


Admitted to the practice of law in Mississippi in 1985, Judge Barnes is qualified to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Mississippi, and all Mississippi state courts. She is a member of the Mississippi Bar and the Lee County Bar Association. She has served as president of both the Lee County Bar Association and the Lee County Young Lawyers Association.


Judge Barnes was honored as the 2019 recipient of the 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.


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


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


If you have any questions or concerns, please email our Alumni Coordinator, Jack Schultz, at Please RSVP to