Second Circuit Court of Appeal Chief Judge Felicia Toney Williams, of Tallulah, retired from the court on Wednesday, marking the end of a 30-year judicial career.
At the Second Circuit, Williams represented an area including portions of southern Monroe.
“There is never a good time to leave,” Williams said. “However, I feel comfort in knowing that I have faithfully served the judiciary for over 30 years with dignity, integrity and to the best of my ability. Now, I will take time to enjoy the fruits of my labor.”
In light of Williams’ retirement, Second Circuit Judge Milton Moore III, of Monroe, assumed the seat of chief judge. Moore has been on the court since January 2003.
The state Supreme Court appointed retired Justice Joseph “Joe” Bleich to serve as judge pro tempore at the Second Circuit until May 31, 2021, or until the vacancy is filled, whichever occurs sooner.
“Chief Judge Williams exemplifies commitment to justice evidenced by her impeccable 30 year career in the judiciary,” said Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson, “her service on the bench has provided a beacon for her successors and she will certainly be missed.” Associate Justice Scott J. Crichton commented, “It has been my experience to witness her dedication to the rule of law. She is to be commended for her years of service. We additionally express our thanks to retired Justice Bleich for his willingness to serve.”
Associate Justice Scott Crichton also commended Williams for her career.
“It has been my experience to witness her dedication to the rule of law. She is to be commended for her years of service,” he said.
Williams was the first African American to serve as chief judge of the Second Circuit. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Southern University of Baton Rouge in 1977 and her juris doctor from Southern University School of Law in Baton Rouge in 1980. Following graduation, she served as an attorney with the United States Department of Justice, after which she worked as an attorney at Central Louisiana Legal Services and a central staff law clerk at the Louisiana Supreme Court. She later worked as Madison Parish Assistant District Attorney, and as a Partner at Williams and Williams, APLC. She was elected as 6th Judicial District Court Judge, Division B in 1991 where she served until her election to the Second Circuit bench in 1993. In 1994 she served as state Supreme Court Associate Justice pro tempore.
Williams was born in 1956 in Newellton, Louisiana, to the late A.C. Toney and the late Ernestine Edison Toney, and graduated from McCall Senior High School, Tallulah, in 1974, with honors. She is married to attorney Moses Junior Williams, and is the mother of Rhonda W. Jackson, Myra Meshell Williams and Justin Junior Williams, and the grandmother of Christian and Camryn Jackson.
Bleich was elected to the 3rd Judicial District Court, Division B in 1985 and reelected without opposition in 1991. Pursuant to order of the Louisiana Supreme Court, Bleich has previously served on the Second Circuit Court of Appeal in a pro tempore capacity on three previous occasions.