Gartin Building Court Room
Court of Appeals Judges

Judge Virginia Carlton Presiding Judge
Virginia Carlton
District 4, Position 1

Presiding Judge Carlton has served as a Judge on the Mississippi Court of Appeals since January of 2007. Judge Carlton became a Presiding Judge of the Court of Appeals on February 1, 2019, and she is currently serving in her second term on the court. Judge Carlton participates in over 400 cases a year and authors approximately 40-50 majority opinions a year, in addition to numerous separate opinions. The Court also determines approximately 1500 motions a year.

In addition to her current service on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, Judge Carlton has served our state and nation in various other capacities over the course of her career. She formerly held elected office as State Representative for Mississippi House District 100 from January 1, 2004 - December 2006. She also served as an assistant district attorney, county public defender, U.S. Army JAG officer, Command and General Staff College Instructor, USAR military trial and military appellate judge, and as a Mississippi Supreme Court law clerk.

As an Army JAG officer, Judge Carlton served the Army in a Variety of legal positions over the years including prosecutor, defense counsel, deputy staff judge advocate, staff judge advocate, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Army in Hawaii. She was merit selected to serve as a military trial judge in the USAR. She was subsequently selected to serve as an associate USAR military appellate judge on the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, where she participated in approximately 90 cases and served as lead judge in 40 cases. Carlton’s 24 ½ years of total military service is unique in that it includes active duty, USAR reserve duty, and National Guard duty.

Upon retirement from the military in February 2015, Judge Carlton held the rank of Colonel. Carlton was awarded the following military awards and medals: Legion of Merit; Meritorious Service Medal (7th Award); Army Commendation Medal (4th Award); Army Reserve Component’s Achievement Medal (3rd Award); National Defense Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon (1); and Armed Forces Reserve Medal (with M Device and with 10 year service device). She was also awarded a foreign badge, the German Sports Medal, during her tour of duty in Germany. Additionally, she was awarded the Mississippi National Guard Magnolia Cross by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant.

Judge Carlton hails from Columbia, Mississippi, and she currently resides in Jackson, Mississippi. She attended the University of Mississippi for her undergraduate and her law school education. She received her B.B.A. degree in 1986 and earned her Juris Doctorate degree in 1989. As an undergraduate, she served in the campus senate and was a member of the Chi Omega sorority, Tau chapter. She also served in many organizations during law school including the Mississippi Law Journal, the Moot Court Board and its Executive Board, and clerk of Mays Inn of Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity. She continued her professional education in the military and is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and Staff College and a graduate of the U.S. Army War College. She holds a Master Degree of Strategic Studies.

Judge Carlton actively contributes to the bench, bar, and the community. She has served on the Mississippi Children’s Justice Commission, the Mississippi Supreme Court Rules Advisory Committee, and as Chairman of the 2020 Special Committee on Judicial Election Campaign Intervention. She currently serves on the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission and on the Board of Governors of the Mississippi Judicial College. She also previously served as an adjunct professor at Mississippi College School of Law and at Belhaven College. Judge Carlton is a member of the North Jackson Rotary Club and was named 2020 Champion of Change by the Women in Rotary Committee of Rotary District 6820, which includes 45 Rotary Clubs. She was a member of the Junior Auxiliary of Columbia, MS, and is a past chair of the Jackson Symphony League Ball.

Judge Carlton is admitted to practice in Mississippi and before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. She is a member of the Mississippi and the American Bar Associations. In 2012, she was honored by her selection as a fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation. In 2010, she was named one of the top 50 women in business by the Mississippi Business Journal, and in 2013, as a woman of the year by the Mississippi Commission for the Status of Women. She is also a fellow of the American Bar Association Foundation. When serving as a State Representative, Judge Carlton was named Outstanding Legislator for Juvenile Justice, and the Mississippi Association of Adult and Community Education named her “2004-2005 South Mississippi Friend of Adult Education.”

Judge Carlton is married to Dr. Scott Carlton, a family physician and Colonel in the Mississippi Army National Guard. The Carltons have three children- Rachel, a chemical engineer, Harrison Read, an electrical engineer, and Phoebe, a college student.