5 Things to Know About New Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Carl Stewart

By Robyn Hagan Cain on October 01, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Here at FindLaw, we understand the pressures of being a legal professional - most of us are recovering lawyers - so we want to help by tossing you that preferred life preserver of the legal profession, the short list.

Last week, Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Edith Jones announced that she would be stepping down from her chief-dom "a bit early" due to family problems. We're going to miss the feisty Judge Jones as the head of the court, but today we're focusing on the future and welcoming the new chief: Judge Carl E. Stewart.

What’s that you say? Chief Judge Stewart is practically a stranger to you? Here are five things you should know about the new chief.

  1. First Things First. Judge Stewart is the first African American to serve as chief judge of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  2. Have Seconds. Judge Stewart became the second African American to serve on the appellate court following his appointment by President Clinton in 1994. The first black judge on the appellate court was Judge Joseph W. Hatchett, who later became the chief judge of the Eleventh Circuit following the Fifth Circuit split in 1981, reports Mississippi’s WTVA. Judge Stewart is also the second judge from Shreveport to serve as chief judge of the Fifth Circuit. Shreveport Judge Henry A. Politz served as the court’s chief from 1992-1999.
  3. An Education. Stewart received his undergraduate degree from Dillard University in 1971 and graduated from Loyola University’s law school in New Orleans in 1974, reports The Associated Press.
  4. In Good Company. Judge Stewart is National Vice President of the American Inns of Court Foundation and a member of the National, Federal, Louisiana and Shreveport Bar Associations, and the Federal Judges Association. He is the immediate past Chair of the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure for the U.S. Judicial Conference.
  5. A Select Group. There’s a statutorily-mandated process for passing the chief judge mantle. The chief judge of the circuit is the circuit judge in regular active service who is senior in commission of those judges who are 64 or younger, have served for one year or more as a circuit judge, and have not served previously as chief judge. If no circuit judge meets those qualifications, the youngest circuit judge in regular active service who is 65 years of age or over, and who has served as circuit judge for one year or more, shall act as the chief judge. The chief judge serves for a seven-year term.

Thanks to the unambiguous statutory guidelines, Chief Judge Stewart had a seemingly seamless assent to his seven-year term; if only the Louisiana Supreme Court’s chief justice selection process could be as effortless.

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