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Wicker, Hyde-Smith Celebrate Committee Approval of Mississippi Nominees for District Court

Press Release

Date: Oct. 22, 2020
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Judicial Branch

U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., today hailed committee approval of the nomination of Kristi H. Johnson of Brandon and Taylor B. McNeel of Pascagoula to serve as U.S. District Judges for the Southern District of Mississippi. The Senate Judiciary Committee approval clears their nominations for consideration by the full Senate. The Committee also advanced the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.

"Kristi Johnson and Taylor McNeel are outstanding picks for the federal bench in Mississippi. They will both bring an impressive record of experience and a strong conservative judicial philosophy to their work. I look forward to seeing their nominations considered by the full Senate without delay," Wicker said.

"Judiciary Committee approval of the Kristi Johnson and Taylor McNeel nominations sets the stage for the Senate to fill vacancies on the federal bench in Mississippi. They are both exceptional attorneys and are well qualified to serve as federal judges," Hyde-Smith said. "I look forward to the full Senate confirming these outstanding Mississippians as soon as possible.

Wicker and Hyde-Smith introduced Johnson and McNeel at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to consider their nominations. President Trump selected Johnson in March and McNeel in June.

Johnson, a native of Hurley, serves as the first Solicitor General of Mississippi. If confirmed, she would also be the Southern District of Mississippi's first female jurist.

Johnson earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Mississippi and a law degree from Mississippi College, where she graduated summa cum laude and served as executive editor of the Mississippi College Law Review. She served as a law clerk for the Honorable Sharion Aycock with the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Mississippi and for the Honorable Leslie H. Southwick with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Johnson has also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Mississippi, an adjunct professor at Mississippi College, and as Treasurer and Secretary of the Mississippi Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

McNeel was an Eagle Scout, student body president, and an all-state quarterback in high school and was elected Governor of American Legion Boys State. At Ole Miss, he was a member of the football team for two seasons and served as senior class president. In 2008, he graduated cum laude from the University of Mississippi Law School where he was a member of the Mississippi Law Journal.

McNeel is a partner in the law firm of Brunini, Grantham, Grower, and Hewes, where he heads the Mississippi Gulf Coast office and has led a number of cases before the Mississippi Supreme Court, Mississippi Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

He is an elder in the First Presbyterian Church of Pascagoula and has served as president of the Harrison County Bar Association. Additionally, McNeel has held several leadership positions in the Mississippi Bar Association.


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