Hon. James G. Mixon

November 19-25, 2012

When the Pulaski County Bar Foundation recognized the Honorable James G. Mixon as an Ike Scott Fellow, he reacted exactly as expected– deflecting praise and praising others. He thanked the Foundation and the Pulaski County Bar Association and then eulogized Ike Scott. Judge Mixon knew and admired Ike Scott and was extremely honored to be recognized in this manner.

James Gordon Mixon was born in Helena, Arkansas, on August 27, 1941. He attended the University of Central Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law at Fayetteville in May 1968. He served two years active duty in the United States Navy as an enlisted man and was discharged Seaman First Class. Judge Mixon’s parents are both deceased. He has two sisters, Abigail Mixon McCracken, Houston, Texas, and Sara Lee Mixon McPhillips, Houston, Texas. He is married to Robbie Payton Mixon, and he has two step-children by Robbie: Erin Whitt and Courtney Payton. He has three step-children by a previous marriage: Cab Craig, Houston, Texas; Christie Gildehaus, Bentonville, Arkansas; and James Polk Craig, Bella Vista, Arkansas.

Judge Mixon was admitted to the bar in August 1968 and served one year as a law clerk to the Hon. John Fogleman on the Arkansas Supreme Court. Judge Mixon then served as an Assistant United States Attorney under W. H. Dillahunty from June 1969 until February 1973.

From 1973 until 1984, he was engaged in the private practice of law in Bentonville, Arkansas, with the firm Little & Lawrence, later Little, Lawrence, McCollum & Mixon.

He was appointed a Chapter 7 Panel trustee from 1980 to 1984. He also served on the Bentonville City Council for two years and spent two years as City Attorney for the City of Bentonville.

Judge Mixon was appointed United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas on March 24, 1984. He served eight years as the Chief Bankruptcy Judge.

He retired in 2006 and has served as a recall bankruptcy judge since. He is a member of the Arkansas Bar Association, the Pulaski County Bar Association, the Debtor/Creditor Bar Association, and the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges. He served as adjunct professor for a period of time at the University of Arkansas School of Law at Little Rock.

Judge Mixon knows when less is better. His unassuming manner disguises a sharp mind and a wicked sense of humor. He has an astounding knowledge of the bankruptcy code but constantly second-guesses himself. He will mull over the issues and the facts until he feels that he has an exact grasp of the appropriate resolution. He readily admits his mistakes and shortcomings, and he never lets pride or arrogance stand in the way of the correct result or proper treatment of the bar. He has a keen political mind but refuses to engage in petty politics. Instead of telling his fellow judges the correct course, he patiently outlines the options, makes it clear that in the end the decision is theirs, and never tries to impose his views or will. He is a kind, steady, ispassionate, and caring mentor to lawyers and his fellow judges.

He can carry the whole “unassuming” thing too far. Once, he and a friend spent several days camping and fishing on the White River. The lovely family that set up their tent and extensive accoutrement next door unexpectedly broke camp the following morning. Judge Mixon introduced himself to the obviously uncomfortable family. After finally establishing that he was a federal judge and his companion a respected attorney, the couple confessed that during their sleepless night they had concluded that the unshaven vagrants next door were fugitives.

And finally, Judge Mixon loves trains. They remind him of how a young man discovered the world. And, they go very few places very slowly; he gets to enjoy the journey, not just the destination. We are grateful he has included us in his journey.