TUPELO • U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson has recommended Northeast Mississippi prosecutor Scott Colom for Mississippi’s federal bench.

Thompson, Mississippi’s lone Congressional Democrat, has recommended in a letter that President Joe Biden nominate Colom as a federal judge in the state’s U.S. Northern District. Cedric Watkins, a spokesperson for Thompson, confirmed the recommendation to the Daily Journal.

Colom is the elected district attorney of the 16th Circuit Court District, which includes Lowndes, Oktibbeha, Clay and Noxubee counties.

“I’m honored and thankful to have Rep. Thompson’s support for the nomination,” Colom told the Daily Journal on Tuesday. “I love being district attorney, but it’s an honor to be considered.”

Colom is the first Black prosecutor in the 16th Circuit Court District, winning that seat in 2015 by defeating the long-serving incumbent Forrest Allgood. A Columbus native, Colom defeated the notoriously punitive Allgood on a reforming campaign that emphasized intervention programs designed to offer nonviolent offenders alternatives to prison time.

If nominated and confirmed, Colom would be the second Black judge currently serving the Northern District, a historic first. Sitting District Judge Debra Brown is herself the first Black judge to serve in the Northern District and is only the third Black district court judge in Mississippi history.

The Commercial Dispatch in Columbus first reported Thompson’s formal recommendation of Colom. In October, the Daily Journal reported that Colom was considered by key figures in Mississippi to be a likely nominee.

There are three judicial posts in the U.S. Northern District. An announcement in October by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills that he’ll take senior status created a vacancy. That decision by Mills was first reported by the Itawamba County Times.

This will allow Mills to remain on the bench and hear a reduced caseload, but it does create a judicial vacancy.

Mills says he’ll continue to serve full-time until a replacement is nominated and confirmed, which could yet take some time.

Nearly a year into Biden’s current term, the president has not nominated any candidates to the two U.S. attorney posts in Mississippi.

Across the nation, there are currently 64 vacancies in U.S. district courts, with 24 nominees pending. An additional two nominees are pending for future vacancies.

Mississippi's U.S. senators could sink or boost the prospects of any eventual nominee offered for the state's federal bench. Current customs observed in the U.S. Senate allow the objection of a senator to virtually veto consideration of nominees to federal district courts within the senator's home state.

A spokesman for Sen. Roger Wicker, who lives in Tupelo, had no comment about whether he is likely to support or to object if Colom is nominated.

"The senator has not heard from the White House about a selection for the federal bench," said Phillip Waller.

Aside from Mills and Brown, the other currently sitting judge on the U.S. Northern District bench is Sharion Aycock.

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