Judge Mary Libby Payne, JD, is an acclaimed and distinguished former judge who served on the Mississippi Court of Appeals for six years between 1995 and 2001, citing these years as the ultimate highlight of her career. Prior to this endeavor, she served Mississippi College as a professor from 1978 to 1994, later becoming a scholar-in-residence and professor emerita. Formerly the founding dean and associate professor of the School of Law at Mississippi College, she previously acted as an assistant attorney general in the State Attorney General Office, chief of drafting and research with the Mississippi House of Representatives, and executive director of the Mississippi Judiciary Commission. Holding a private practice in Brandon, MS, for five years in the 1960s, she also served Henley, Jones & Henley as an associate and Bickerstaff & Bickerstaff as partner at the inception of her career in the mid-1950s.
First completing coursework at the Mississippi University for Women, where she subsequently sat on the board of distinguished alumnae for 12 years, Judge Payne received a Bachelor of Arts in political science, with distinction, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Mississippi in 1954 and 1955, respectively. After gaining prominence in her field, she received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Mississippi College in 2013. During her tenure, she contributed articles to various legal journals. In 2011, she authored “A Goodly Heritage: A Memoir of Mississippi College School of Law.”
To remain abreast of developments in her field, Judge Payne maintained membership with the Mississippi Bar Foundation and sat on the national board of directors of the Christian Legal Society between 1992 and 2001. Married to the late Bobby R. Payne, who provided unconditional love and support, she has two children and two grandchildren. In her spare time, she enjoys public speaking, traveling, doing needlepoint, sewing, reading, writing, and studying history.
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