Mississippi federal judge who presided over high-profile corruption trials, civil rights cases dies

Published 3:45 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2023

U.S. District Court Judge Neal B. Biggers has died in Oxford after an extended illness. He was 88.

The longtime Judge for the Northern District of Mississippi passed away Sunday, and no funeral arrangements have been announced.

Lafayette County Coroner Rocky Kennedy confirmed his passing to the Oxford Eagle.

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Waller Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Biggers’ death is being investigated by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation as a matter of protocol when any federal magistrate passes away.

Biggers was appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, after serving as a circuit judge, a district attorney and a private attorney in his hometown of Corinth.

He became the chief judge of the Northern District of Mississippi in 1998 and assumed senior status in 2000.

During his tenure, Biggers presided over many high-profile cases, including the corruption trials of former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr., former attorney Paul Minor and former state Auditor Steven Patterson.

He also handled civil rights cases, such as the desegregation of the Oxford School District and the voting rights lawsuit filed by black residents of Noxubee County.

Biggers was known for his fairness, integrity and professionalism, as well as his sharp wit and sense of humor.

He earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues, lawyers and litigants who appeared before him.

“Judge Biggers is a legend in the legal community and a role model for all judges,” said U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills, upon succeeding Biggers as the chief judge of the Northern District in 2000. “He has served the people of Mississippi with honor and distinction for nearly four decades. He will be greatly missed.”