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Judge Latrice Westbrooks named Outstanding Woman Lawyer of 2017

May 23, 2017

Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge Latrice A. Westbrooks of Lexington was honored Friday, May 19, as Outstanding Woman Lawyer of 2017 by the Mississippi Women Lawyers’ Association.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Pshon Barrett received the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. The awards were presented at a luncheon during MWLA Day of Leadership, a continuing legal education seminar at Mississippi College School of Law.

“Judge Westbrooks is a shining example of how one can persevere to break through the ceiling,” MWLA Director of State Awards Jessica E. Murray said while presenting the award.

Judge Westbrooks said, “I share this award with many women that I have admired. I couldn’t have done it without the support of the women in this room.”

Barrett was recognized for her 37 years of work as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Mississippi. Barrett handles cases involving the Americans With Disabilities Act as well as other civil cases.

Barrett, born weighing less than 2 ½ pounds and blind, said her parents, who accompanied her to the ceremony, “have never allowed me to view myself as a victim....My life has been filled with gifts of family and friends and opportunities – and challenges – which have motivated me to grow and stretch myself beyond my own strengths and abilities.”

Barrett frequently lectures on the Americans With Disabilities Act, and has served on national committees addressing the needs people with disabilities. She is vice-chair of the Board of Directors of Mississippi Industries for the Blind. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi School of Law. She earned a master’s degree from Reformed Theological Seminary. She is an accomplished pianist and vocalist.

Judge Westbrooks became the first African American woman Assistant District Attorney in the Second Circuit Court District in October 1997. She joined the Jackson law firm of Byrd and Associates in 2000, then opened her own law practice in 2001, representing clients in both criminal and civil matters. She served as prosecutor for the city of Durant and as city attorney for the town of Isola. For almost 10 years, she served as a public defender in Holmes County. In 2013, she became interim communications director for Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, then joined the Jackson City Attorney's Office as legal counsel for the Jackson Police Department. She returned to private law practice in 2014. She served as Municipal Judge for the city of Lexington before she was elected to the Court of Appeals.

She has worked in conjunction with the Magnolia Bar Association, One Voice, the NAACP, the Mississippi Center for Justice, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mississippi Youth Justice Project and the ACLU. She served as a Southeast Regional and Central Director of the Magnolia Bar Association. She previously chaired the Criminal Justice Committee for the State Conference of the NAACP. She is a member of the Mississippi Bar, Magnolia Bar Association, National Bar Association, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the Capital Area Bar Association and the Metro Jackson Black Women Lawyers Association. She is a former member of the Mississippi Association for Justice and the Mississippi Public Defenders Association. She is a life member of the NAACP, past board member of Leadership Greater Jackson Alumnae, past board member of the I.S. Sanders YMCA, and past board member of the National African American Student Leadership Conference.

Judge Westbrooks was born in Memphis, Tennessee. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn. She earned a law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

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