A Benchmark Appointment
Judge Sharion Aycock '80, Mississippi's first female federal district court judge
Sharion Aycock is warm and gracious, with a ready, 100-watt smile that puts people at ease. When friends and neighbors in her home community of Fulton, Mississippi, try to address her as “Your Honor,” she insists, “No, I’m just Sharion.” But as attorneys who’ve argued before her will confirm, when Judge Sharion Aycock slides her glasses to the tip of her nose and peers at you over the rims, you’d best have your facts in order.
As a U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of Mississippi, Aycock adjudicates felony cases, as well as significant civil cases, all argued by some of the best attorneys in the country. Cases brought before Judge Aycock have included the largest drug trafficking case in the history of northern Mississippi, which included 26 defendants and quantities of cocaine so large that the smell of the evidence made the jurors ill, a healthcare fraud case that required 56 attorneys and paralegals and shaped future law, and numerous other complex cases. The stakes in Judge Aycock’s courtroom are always high and the pressure is intense; she’s even had an attorney suffer a heart attack during the proceedings.
“My job is like starting a new novel every Monday and finishing it by Friday afternoon,” Aycock says. “The attorneys who argue in federal court are very good. I’m privileged to hear the best from both sides. To see those legal theories presented so well is not only interesting to me, it’s also fun.”
Aycock’s journey to the federal bench began when she took the LSAT at the suggestion of one of her professors at Mississippi State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. Once she enrolled in MC Law, Aycock discovered a new passion. Not only did she realize she loved the law, she graduated second in her class. Aycock practiced with a firm and in private practice in Fulton, Mississippi, and also served as the Itawamba County prosecuting attorney.
In 2003, Aycock ran for Circuit Court Judge for the First Circuit Court District, which included seven counties in northern Mississippi. She was the first woman to run for circuit court judge in the history of the district.
“When I was campaigning, women would come up to me and say, ‘I’m so proud of you,’” Aycock recalls. “I was surprised how much women felt they needed to see a female on the bench. I received cards, letters, and calls of encouragement from people I didn’t even know.”