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Chief U.S. District Judge Mike Mills, left, delivers the oath of office to Jason Woodard, as his wife, Stephanie, holds the Bible during Woodard’s swearing in on Wednesday as the U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Aberdeen. (Thomas Wells)

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

ABERDEEN – Jason Woodard’s three young sons ran to his side Wednesday to offer hugs of congratulations shortly after he took his oath as North Mississippi’s new bankruptcy judge.

At 37, he became one of the country’s youngest U.S. Bankruptcy Court jurists.

The former Birmingham, Ala., bankruptcy attorney succeeds David W. Houston III in the appointed post.

Houston, who attended the brief ceremony, officially retired Tuesday after decades on the bench as the region’s first bankruptcy judge.

Michael P. Mills, chief judge of the U.S. District of Northern Mississippi, administered the oath to Woodard before a crowd of family, friends, former law partners and bankruptcy court staff.

“It’s poignant to see you out there, David,” Mills said to the former judge seated in the audience.

Woodard said he hadn’t planned any “grand speech” for the day, deferring to an official installation ceremony later this year.

He pledged to Houston his plans “to continue on a path set by you,” terming the expansive Aberdeen courthouse alongside Old Highway 45 as “the house David Houston built.”

Woodard’s appointment is for 14 years and comes from a peer selection process through the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, of which Mississippi is part.

He comes to the job from 12 years as a bankruptcy attorney, with undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Alabama.

The Aberdeen-based court deals with all bankruptcy cases filed within the Northern District of Mississippi.

At Houston’s portrait unveiling ceremony recently, Woodard said he and his family will reside in Columbus.

His wife, Stephanie, said they’ll complete the move after their children’s school year ends.

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