African American History Month - 2017

Each February, the achievements of African Americans are highlighted during African American History Month.  The Judicial Council/Administrative Office of the Courts looks to highlight influential African American Judges in Georgia during this month.

For last year's profiles, go to http://georgiacourts.gov/content/african-american-history-month

 

Judge Horace Ward

Judge Horace WardIn 2012, Senior Judge Horace T. Ward retired from a prolific career that began 62 years earlier when Judge Ward became the first African-American to apply to the University of Georgia’s School of Law. 

Born in LaGrange, Judge Ward received a Bachelors Degree from Morehouse College and a Master’s Degree from Atlanta University.  In 1950, Judge Ward applied to the UGA School of Law and was denied admission.  Throughout the 1950’s Ward took his case to federal court, served two years in the US Army, and eventually entered Northwestern University’s School of Law. 

 Judge Ward was appointed to the Civil Court of Fulton County in 1974, the first African-American trial court judge in Georgia and in 1977, he was elevated to the Superior Court of Fulton County.

 In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed Judge Ward to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the first African American appointed to the federal bench in Georgia. He took senior status in 1994 and retired in 2012.

 Judge Ward was presented with an honorary doctor of laws degree in 2014 from the University of Georgia School of Law.

 

 

February 1 - Judge Eugene Gadsden

Judge Eugene Gadsden

Judge Eugene GadsdenJudge Eugene Gadsden, a native of Savannah, GA, became the first African American Superior Court Judge in the Eastern Judicial Circuit in 1979 when he was appointed by Gov. George Busbee. In the following year, he won election and remained on the bench until his retirement in 1992.  Judge Gadsden was educated in the public schools of Savannah and graduated from Georgia State Industrial College (now Savannah State University) in 1934 and earned his law degree from North Carolina Central University, Durham in 1953.

 

 

Judge Gadsden was well known in the Savannah area for his civil rights work. He was one of the lead attorneys in Stell vs. Chatham County Board of Education, a case in federal court that sought end the system of assigning children to schools based on race.  Judge Gadsden served as an assistant district attorney from 1968-1974 in Chatham County and served on the Recorders Court of Savannah.

 

Read more on Judge Gadsden at:
http://savannahherald.net/black-history-spotlight-judge-eugene-gadsden-p4503-1.htm
http://savannahnow.com/stories/081000/LOCgadsdentimeline.shtml#.WH_K0pL2yg8

February 2 - Judge Carl C. Brown, Jr.

Judge Carl C. Brown, Jr.

 

Judge Carl C. BrownJudge Carl C. Brown, Jr. was born October 24, 1948 in Richmond County, Georgia as the second child of the late Carrie Edwards Brown and Carl C. Brown.  He received his elementary and secondary education in the public schools of Richmond County, Georgia, graduating with honors from the T.W. Josey High School in 1966.  In 1970, he received the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and Christianity from Mercer University.  He was also commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army in 1970.  In 1973, Judge Brown received the Juris Doctor Degree from The Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University.  He was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia as an attorney in 1973.  He engaged in the general practice of law from 1973 until 1994.

In 1982, Judge Brown was appointed Judge of the Recorder’s Court for the City of Augusta, becoming the first African American judge in the history of Augusta.  He served as the Chief Judge of the Municipal Court of Augusta from 1982 until 1994.  In 1994, Governor Zell Miller appointed him to the Superior Courts of the Augusta Judicial Circuit.  He presently serves as Chief Judge of the Superior Court of the Augusta Judicial Circuit as well as Administrative Judge of the Tenth Judicial Administrative District.

Judge Brown has served in the following capacities: Trustee of The Augusta Museum; Board of Directors of The Rotary Club of Augusta; Parliamentarian of The Board of Governors of The American Judges’ Association; Board of Advisors of The Alumni of Walter F. George School of Law; Chairman of Deacons and Sunday School Teacher at Spirit Creek Baptist Church; and Executive Committee of the Augusta Bar Association.

Judge Brown has received numerous awards, including The Paul Harris Fellow Award from The Rotary Club of Augusta; an Honorable Discharge as a Captain from the United States Army; The Young Lawyers of Augusta Award for Outstanding Support to Young Lawyers; The Robert L. Allgood Award from The Augusta Bar Association for Outstanding Community Service; The 100 Black Men of Augusta Award for Strong Leadership and Service; and The Citizen of the Year Award.

Judge Brown has been happily married to Dalline G. Brown for 46 years. They are the proud parents of five (5) children and seven (7) grandchildren.

February 3 - Judge Vincent C. Crawford

Judge Vincent C. Crawford

Judge Vincent CrawfordJudge Vincent C. Crawford graduated with honors from Florida A&M University in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.  He received his law degree from Mercer University in 1990. In 2016 Judge Crawford as Chairman of the Georgia Court Improvement Project was the only Judge in the United States to be invited to the White House by President Obama to present on CPRS2. CPRS2 is the only cross agency software program system in the United States created specifically for Juvenile Court in Georgia.

In 1990 Judge Crawford started his legal career as a staff Attorney for Georgia Legal Services. From 1993 to 1997, he worked at as an assistant District Attorney in both Richmond and DeKalb counties. On February 27, 2005, he was appointed as Associate Magistrate Judge for DeKalb County.  On March 24, 2006, Judge Crawford was appointed as Juvenile Court Judge where he has currently served for the last 10 years.   He is a member of the Georgia Council of Juvenile Court Judges and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

 Judge Crawford received the Mercer University, Black Law Student Association, Service Award in 2008. In 2009 he received the “Service” award from the Georgia Department of Human Resources & Youth Empowerment for his work with children in Foster care and the Romae T. Powell Award from the Juvenile Court Association of Georgia for his outstanding contribution and dedicated service to the field of Juvenile Justice. In 2011 Judge Crawford received the DeKalb County Juvenile Court Service award. He was the recipient of the “ Recognition of Outstanding Leadership Award” from Jack and Jill of America, Inc. in March 2012.

February 4 - Judge William Alexander

Judge William Alexander

 Judge William AlexanderJudge William Alexander began practicing law in Atlanta in the 1950s.  The Macon native graduated from Fort Valley State University and University of Michigan School of Law. Judge Alexander earned an LL.M from Georgetown University.  As a civil rights attorney, he successfully argued the suit that challenged Lester Maddox's refusal to serve African-Americans at his Pickrick restaurant.

Judge Alexander served in the Georgia General Assembly until 1975 when he began his judicial career, first as a judge for the Atlanta City Court. He then went on to become judge at the Fulton Criminal Court and superior court judge in the Atlanta Judicial Circuit, a position he held until his retirement in 1996.

February 5 - Judge Quintress Gilbert

Judge Quintress Gilbert

 Judge Quintress GilbertOn January 31, 2017, Quintress Juanita Gilbert, was sworn to a sixth term as Juvenile Court Judge for the Macon Judicial Circuit (Bibb, Crawford, and Peach Counties), for a total of 20 years on the bench. She is the first African American to be appointed Judge of Juvenile Court for the Circuit.

In 1993 Judge Gilbert, a native of Macon, became the first African American woman appointed as a Federal Prosecutor for the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Georgia (which spans Columbus, Macon, Athens, Albany, Valdosta, and Thomasville). After receiving a BA Degree from Mercer University in 1972 she spent 14 years in management with Sears Roebuck & Co. She attended Law School at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka Kansas and graduated in 1988, a year ahead of her class.

Based on her mother's guidance to strive to be the best while being gracious in service to all people, her goal as a Judge has always been to treat everyone with dignity, empathy and respect for the law. She further strives to instill in young people a desire to move forward, by putting their past behind them, with an understanding that their future is our future.

February 6 - Judge Berryl Anderson

Judge Berryl A. Anderson

 

Judge Berryl AndersonLeadership is a word used so often that it sometimes seems to have lost its meaning.  But not when it is used with Judge Berryl A. Anderson.  She has epitomized the word throughout her career.  In 2010, Judge Anderson was sworn in as the first African American female Chief Judge of the DeKalb County Magistrate Court.  Since then, as well as during the entire 17 years she has been a member of the Magistrate Court bench, Judge Anderson has been a leader in ensuring justice for the citizens of DeKalb County. 

 

In addition to presiding over an extremely busy court, she has become known, not just in DeKalb County, but throughout the nation for her work in ensuring justice for those who have experienced domestic violence.  In DeKalb, she leads two Domestic Violence (DV) courts, one that has been honored as a Mentor Court by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women since 2014. Not only has DeKalb benefited from her expertise, but the national DV community has benefited from her service as faculty in numerous training programs throughout the U.S.  

 

As an extraordinarily innovative jurist, Judge Berryl A. Anderson has ensured through her leadership that the Magistrate Court of DeKalb remains "the people's court."

February 7 - Judge David D. Watkins

Judge David D. Watkins

 Judge David WatkinsJudge David D. Watkins is a Judge in the State Court of Augusta, Georgia and has served for 18 years.  Judge Watkins earned a BA from Morehouse College and his J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1986. After law school, Judge Watkins joined the United State Marine Corps where he served as an attorney from 1986-1990.

Judge Watkins practiced law until 1997 when he was appointed a State Court Judge in Richmond County by then Governor Zell Miller. 

February 8 - Judge Rachel Pruden Herndon

Judge Rachel Pruden Herndon

 Judge Rachel Pruden HerndonAfter working for then-attorney AT Walden, Judge Rachel Pruden Herndon took the bar examination for the first time in 1937, the only African American out of 80 people.  Years later, she became the first African American woman admitted to the Georgia bar in 1943.

In 1965, Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen appointed Judge Herndon to the Atlanta Traffic and Recorders court, a vacancy created by the departure of Judge AT Walden. She retired from her judicial service in 1973.

February 9 - Judge Harold McLendon

Judge Harold McLendon

Judge Harold McLendonJudge Harold McLendon, a native of Dublin, GA, graduated from Columbus State University in 1977 and from Woodrow Wilson College of Law in 1981. Currently the judge of the Municipal Court of Dublin, Judge McLendon served as a Special Assistant State Attorney General, a Laurens County Assistant District Attorney, a Georgia Department of Pardons & Paroles officer and Associate Juvenile Court Judge. He is the past president of the Middle Georgia Bar Association and a past Member of the Board of Directors of the Georgia Alliance of African American Attorneys.

February 10 - Judge Verda Colvin

Judge Verda Colvin

Judge Verda ColvinJudge Verda Colvin is a Superior Court Judge in the Macon Judicial Circuit which serves Macon Bibb, Crawford and Peach Counties.  She was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal on April 16, 2014.  She is the first African American female appointed to the Macon Judicial Circuit.  She received her B.A. degree from Sweet Briar College in Virginia and her J.D. from the University of Georgia School Of Law.   

Prior to her appointment she was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Middle District of Georgia where in her 15 years of service she prosecuted a wide range of offenses from drug trafficking to white collar crime.  Preceding her service with the federal government she was an Assistant District Attorney in Clayton County, GA.  She also served as Assistant General Counsel at Clarke-Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA.  She became aware of her love for trial work during her service at the Solicitor’s Office in Athens-Clarke County, GA and during her years in private practice at Ferguson, Stein, Watt, Wallas, Adkins & Gresham, et al. P.A. immediately upon graduation from UGA Law School. 

 
Judge Colvin is committed to service professionally and personally.  She serves on the Council of Accountability Court Judges- Funding Committee.  She is a member of the Macon Bar Association, GABWA (Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys), The Gate City Bar- Judicial Section- Executive Board member, and the William A. Bootle American Inn of Court.  She is a member of the Rotary- Downtown Club and she serves as a troop leader for Girl Scout Troop 60022 at St. Peter Claver Catholic School.  She is an Executive Board Member of Boy Scouts of America Ocmulgee District and serves as Scoutreach Committee Chair and Vice President.  She is a member of Jack and Jill of America-Macon Chapter.  She is on the Board of Directors for the Fuller House and will serve on the Regional Partnership Council of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Georgia.   

She is a Leadership Macon 2010 Graduate.  She was honored by Leadership Macon as the Robert F. Hatcher Distinguished Alumni Award as a Community Leader in 2015.  She is an Adjunct instructor at Mercer Law School.

February 11 - Judge Clyde Reese

Judge Clyde L. Reese III

 

Judge Clyde ReeseJudge Clyde L. Reese III began his judicial career on December 1, 2016, having been appointed to the Court of Appeals of Georgia by Gov. Nathan Deal. Judge Reese, a Florence, S.C. native, moved to Atlanta with his parents in 1969 at the age of ten. He attended Georgia State University and the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. He graduated in 1996 with a Juris Doctor degree.

 

Prior to his judicial career, Judge Reese worked as an Assistant Attorney General, Deputy General Counsel and General Counsel of Department of Community Health (DCH), owner and principal of Reese & Hopkins, LLC, a firm specializing in state and federal health care regulatory matters. In the fall of 2007, Judge Reese returned to state government with DCH. In January of 2011, Governor Nathan Deal appointed Judge Reese as Commissioner of the Department of Human Services (DHS), a position he held until his appointment to the Court of Appeals.

February 12 - Judge Alford Dempsey

Judge Alford J. Dempsey, Jr.

Judge Alford DempseyAtlanta native Judge Alford J. Dempsey, Jr. wanted to join the military to emulate his father who served in the US Army, assigned to General Dwight Eisenhower’s honor guard after World War II. While at Columbia University, Judge Dempsey participated in the 1968 student protests. He later transferred to Morehouse College in Atlanta where he graduated with honors with his B.A. degree in economics in 1972 and in 1976, Dempsey earned his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School.

Judge Dempsey began his legal career working on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. Prior to his judicial career, He became assistant city attorney for the City of Atlanta’s Department of Law. In 1992, Dempsey was named judge of the Magistrate Court of Fulton County/State Court in Atlanta, then was then appointed to the Fulton County Superior Court by Governor Zell Miller in 1995. Judge Dempsey was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Fulton County Family Court.

Judge Dempsey is an active member of a number of professional legal organizations and in many community organizations. In 2016, Judge Dempsey was elected Chief Deputy Judge of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit by his peers.

 Bio crafted from http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/honorable-alford-dempsey-jr

Febraury 13 - Judge Leslie Abrams

Judge Leslie Abrams

 

Judge Leslie AbramsJudge Leslie Abrams, a Hattiesburg, Mississippi native, graduated from Yale Law School in 2002 after which she served as a law clerk for Judge Marvin J. Garbis of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. She served as an associate at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP, from 2003 to 2006 and again from 2007 to 2010. She served as an associate at the law firm of Kilpatrick Stockton LLP, from 2006 to 2007. From 2010 to 2014, she served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Georgia.

 

In March 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Judge Abrams to serve as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, to the seat being vacated by Judge Willie Louis Sands. When she received her commission in November 2014, Judge Abrams became the first African American woman to serve as a federal judge in Georgia.

February 14 - Judge Willie E. Lockette

Judge Willie E. Lockette

 Judge Willie LocketteJudge Willie E. Lockette became the first African American to win a contested election when he ran for Superior Court Judge in the Doughtery Judicial Circuit in 1996. Prior to that election, Judge Lockette had served as Magistrate Judge, then as Chief Magistrate for Dougherty County.

Judge Lockette has deep roots in Georgia, having grown up in Turner and Crisp counties, attended Fort Valley State University. He attended the University of Illinois, College of Law at Champaign, Ill., graduating in the top ten in his class. 

In 2009, Judge Lockette became Chief Judge of the Dougherty Circuit. He was an adjunct professor of political science, history and public administration at Albany State University for more than ten years and has been the recipient of numerous civic, religious, social and professional awards.

February 15 - Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore

Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore

Judge Thelma MooreJudge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore graduated from Emory University School of Law in 1971. She was the first woman to serve full-time on the benches of the Atlanta Municipal Court and the City Court of Atlanta and the first African-American woman to serve on the State Courts of Georgia. 

In 1985, Judge Moore was appointed to the State Court of Fulton County. She was appointed to the Superior Court of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit in 1990. She was the first woman to serve as Chief Judge of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit and the first African-American woman to serve as Chief Administrative Judge of any Judicial Circuit in Georgia. Judge Moore retired in 2008.

February 16 - Judge Andrew Hairston

Judge Andrew Hairston

Judge Andrew HairstonJudge Andrew Hairston began his life near Winston-Salem, NC the son of a tenant farmer and housekeeper. Judge Hairston attended Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, TX and later Texas Christian University. He moved to Atlanta to preach at Simpson Street Church of Christ.

After several years in Atlanta, Judge Hairston enrolled in John Marshall Law School. He served as Atlanta City Solicitor until his appointment to the City Court of Atlanta. In 1982, Judge Hairston was elected as the court’s chief judge – the first African American to hold that office, a position he held until his retirement in 2005.

February 17 - Judge LeRoy Burke, III

Judge LeRoy Burke III

Judge LeRoy BurkeJudge LeRoy Burke, III, Presiding Judge, Juvenile Court of Chatham County, was born in Suffolk, VA.  Judge Burke graduated from Hampton (Institute) University in Hampton, VA, and earned his JD from Woodrow Wilson College of Law in Atlanta.  From 1980 until 1989, he was in private practice in Atlanta and Savannah.

Judge Burke served on the Recorders Court of Chatham County from 1993 until September 2004 when he was appointed to the Juvenile Court of Chatham County. Judge Burke is an active participant in legal and judicial circles including being active on the Council of Juvenile Court Judges, working on the Judicial Council’s Judicial Workload Assessment Committee as well as being a member of the Port City and Savannah Bar Associations. During his time on the Recorders Court bench, Judge Burke was an active member of the council of Municipal Court Judges (District Representative and Vice-President) and the Municipal Court Training Council.

In his free time, Judge Burke enjoys music, reading, and humor. He is the father of three children: LeRoy (Bud) Burke, IV, Karen L. Burke, and William D. Burke.

Februay 18 - Judge Roberta Cross-Davenport

Judge Roberta Cross Davenport

Judge Roberta Cross-Davenport was a lifelong resident of Swainsboro, GA. In 1988 she was elected judge of the Probate Court of Emanuel County, a position she held until her death in 2001. Judge Davenport was a supporter of Swainsboro Technical College, from which she graduated with a degree in Business Education, serving on their Board of Directors.  A portrait was hung at Swainsboro Technical College in 2002 to honor her memory.

 

Judge Davenport conducted teaching seminars through the Continuing Education Department of University of Georgia for Probate Judges Clerks. She was also a member of the Governing Board of the Emanuel County Unit, American Heart Association; the Judicial Committee of Emanuel County Foster Parent Review Board; the Board of Directors of East Georgia Healthcare; the Board of Directors of Emanuel Arts Center; Community Service Board of Ogeechee Mental Health; Chairman of the Board of Directors of Swainsboro Technical College and Advisory Board of Emanuel County Literacy Program.

February 19 - Judge Calvin S. Graves

Judge Calvin S. Graves

Chief Judge Calvin S. Graves was appointed to the Municipal Court of Atlanta bench in 2005. Prior to being appointed to the Municipal Court bench, Judge Graves served as Chief Judge, Judge, and Pro Hac Judge of the City Court of Atlanta to which he was appointed in 1993.

Judge Graves is a member of many professional and community organizations. He is a past president of the Gate City Bar Association, past president of the Gate City Bar Association Foundation, past member of the editorial board of the State Bar of Georgia Journal, and founding co-chair of the Gate City Bar Association Judicial Section. He is a member of the League of Women Voters, a graduate of the Leadership Atlanta class of 1993, and a founding member of the 100 Black Men of DeKalb County.

Judge Graves is a recipient of many awards and honors, but he is particularly proud of the award he received in honor of his mentor Judge Clarence Cooper. Known as the Judge Clarence Cooper Judicial Section Award, this award is given to jurists for outstanding service to the judiciary and the community. Judge Graves is a member of the National Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Atlanta Bar Association and the Gate City Bar Association.

February 20 - Judge C. Ray Mullins

Judge C. Ray Mullins

Judge C. Ray MullinsHon. C. Ray Mullins is Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta, appointed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 29, 2000, and named to Chief Judge in January 2012. Judge Mullins served as an instructor in the Management Department of Bowling Green State University's School of Business Administration from 1977-82, then joined the Toledo, Ohio, firm of Cooper, Straub, Walinski & Cramer (now Cooper Walinski), focusing primarily on civil litigation.

From 1984-86, Judge Mullins taught trial practice as an adjunct professor of law at the University of Toledo College of Law. In 1987, he joined Kilpatrick & Cody (now Kilpatrick Stockton LLP) in Atlanta and became a partner in 1993. He also served as a member of the Trustee Panel for the Northern District of Georgia from 1995-2000. Judge Mullins is a Fellow in the American College of Bankruptcy, a member of ABI's Board of Directors and president of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges (2012-13). In 2009 Chief Justice Roberts appointed Judge Mullins to a three-year term as chair of the Federal Judicial Center Bankruptcy Judge Education Committee.

Judge Mullins received his B.S. in business administration in 1974, his M.B.A. in 1977 from Bowling Green State University, and his J.D. magna cum laude in 1982 from the University of Toledo College of Law, where he was a member of its Law Review and the Order of the Coif.

February 21 - Judge Pinkie Toomer

Judge Pinkie Toomer

Judge Pinkie ToomerJudge Pinkie Toomer has worked for the Probate Court of Fulton County since 1978.  The Charleston, WV, native served as Clerk/Court Administrator from 1978 until 2002 when she became Judge of the Probate Court.

 Judge Toomer was educated at Boston University and Emory University School of Law. She also served as a part time Magistrate judge from 1991-2002. She is a member of the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys, Council of Probate Court Judges of Georgia, and Gate City Bar Association.

February 22 - Judge Michael Hancock

Judge Michael Hancock

 Judge Michael HancockFor nearly 29 years, Judge Michael Hancock served the citizens of DeKalb County as a judge, serving in all courts of the DeKalb Judicial System, except Probate Court. His interest in attending law school was sparked in 1974 when he left his position as an investigator with the DeKalb Juvenile Court to attend law school.

He graduated from Emory University Law School in 1978. During law school, he clerked for Margie Pitts Hames’ law firm, for Judge Romae T. Powell at the Fulton County Juvenile Court, and for the law firm of Arrington, Winter and Goger. After law school, to pay it forward, he spent a year in the domestic counterpart of the Peace Corps as a Volunteer in Service to America. He was assigned to the Atlanta Legal Aid Society’s Senior Citizens Law Project. From there he went to work for Georgia Legal Services in Gainesville, Ga. He later served as assistant public defender in Fulton County.

 Judge Hancock has blazed a number of trails in the DeKalb County legal system. He was a pioneer as the county’s first African-American assistant public defender (1979), assistant solicitor general (1983), and as the first black full-time and chief judge of the DeKalb Recorders Court (1983), where he served until April 1991. History was again made when Governor Zell Miller appointed him to the DeKalb Superior Court bench, a position he has held for nearly 21 years until his retirement in 2012.

February 23 - Judge AT Walden

Judge AT Walden

Judge AT WaldenThe son of former slaves, Judge Austin Thomas Walden was a noted attorney and civil rights leader in Georgia during the early 20th century.  Walden, a Fort Valley native, earned a BA from Atlanta University in 1907 and a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1911. He joined the army in 1917 during World War I, attaining the rank of captain and serving as an assistant judge advocate.

After his military service, Walden returned to Georgia, moving his practice from Macon to Atlanta. He founded the Atlanta Negro Voters League and Gate City Bar Association for African Americans.

In 1964, Walden became the first African American judge in Georgia since Reconstruction upon his appointment to the Municipal Court of Atlanta by Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr.

 

 

 

Adapted from BlackPast.org
http://www.blackpast.org/aah/walden-t-1885-1965

February 24 - Judge Edith Grant Ingram

Judge Edith Grant Ingram

Judge Edith Grant IngramJudge Edith Grant Ingram became the state’s first black woman judge in 1969 when she became a judge of the Hancock County Court of Ordinary. The Hancock County native became the county’s probate judge in 1976 and served in that capacity until her retirement in 2004.  

 Judge Ingram graduated from Fort Valley State College (now University) and taught public schools prior to her judicial career.

 

*source Black Firsts http://www.amazon.com/Black-Firsts-Ground-Breaking-Pioneering-Historical...

February 25 - Judge Herbert E. Phipps

Judge Herbert E. Phipps

Judge Herbert E. PhippsIt’s a 200 mile drive from Baker County to Atlanta, but it’s been a much longer road than that for Judge Herbert E. Phipps.  In 2013, Judge Phipps, born and reared in rural Baker County, was sworn-in as the 27th Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Georgia in the court’s Atlanta courtroom. 

At his investiture as Chief Judge, Judge Phipps recalled being inspired by Albany attorney C.B King, the only black attorney in the area, to begin visiting court. “I saw no black attorneys, no black judges, no black jurors, no black law enforcement. Only black defendants.”

He headed to Morehouse College in Atlanta and earned a BA in Political Science in 1964.  He earned his JD from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 1971, returning to Albany to work with C.B. King.

In 1980, Phipps was appointed as a part-time magistrate and Associate Judge of the State Court of Dougherty County, becoming the first black judge in south Georgia.  He was appointed to the Juvenile Court of Dougherty County in 1988, then the Superior court in 1995.  In 1999, Gov. Roy Barnes appointed Judge Phipps to the Court of Appeals where he served until his retirement in November 2016.

February 26 - Justice Robert Benham

Justice Robert Benham

Justice Robert BenhamJustice Robert Benham became the first African American on the Supreme Court of Georgia upon his appointment by Gov. Joe Frank Harris in 1989, just five years after his appointment to the Court of Appeals of Georgia.  In 1995, Justice Benham was selected to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by his peers, a position he held for six years. 

He has earned degrees Tuskegee University, the University of Georgia School of Law, and the University of Virginia.  He is the driving force behind the Justice Robert Benham Annual Awards for Community Service that honor lawyers and judges from the ten judicial districts of Georgia who have made outstanding contributions in the area of community service.

Justice Benham is recognized for being the first African American to win statewide election and to serve as Chief Justice.

February 27 - Judge Linda Warren Hunter

Judge Linda Warren Hunter

Judge Linda Warren HunterJudge Linda Warren Hunter is a trailblazer who has made history by paving the way for women and African Americans.
 
In 1987, Judge Hunter became the first African American trial judge appointed or elected to a trial court of record in the history of DeKalb County, GA when she was appointed to the DeKalb County State Court bench by Governor Joe Frank Harris.
 
In 1991, Judge Hunter again made history when Governor Zell Miller appointed her as the first African American female to serve on the DeKalb County Superior Court bench. Judge Hunter also has the distinction of being the first female to ever serve as Chief and Administrative Judge of the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit.

Additionally, prior to becoming a judge, Judge Hunter served as the first African American female DeKalb County Assistant Solicitor and DeKalb County Assistant District Attorney.
 
Judge Hunter has served on the Governor’s Conference on Justice in Georgia, Georgia’s Commission on Certainty in Sentencing, and the Council of Superior Court Judges’ Gender/Racial/Ethnic Fairness in the Courts Committee. Judge Hunter has also been actively involved in the DeKalb County community by serving on the Boards of Directors of The Georgia Center for Children, Our House, Inc., Scottdale Child Development Center, Inc., and the DeKalb County Rape Crisis Task Force.
 
Judge Hunter is an honors graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., and the University of Georgia School of Law.

February 28 - Judge Horace T. Ward

Judge Horace T. Ward

Judge Horace WardIn 2012, Senior Judge Horace T. Ward retired from a prolific career that began 62 years earlier when Judge Ward became the first African-American to apply to the University of Georgia’s School of Law. 

Born in LaGrange, Judge Ward received a Bachelors Degree from Morehouse College and a Master’s Degree from Atlanta University.  In 1950, Judge Ward applied to the UGA School of Law and was denied admission.  Throughout the 1950’s Ward took his case to federal court, served two years in the US Army, and eventually entered Northwestern University’s School of Law. 

 Judge Ward was appointed to the Civil Court of Fulton County in 1974, the first African-American trial court judge in Georgia and in 1977, he was elevated to the Superior Court of Fulton County.

 In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed Judge Ward to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the first African American appointed to the federal bench in Georgia. He took senior status in 1994 and retired in 2012.

 Judge Ward was presented with an honorary doctor of laws degree in 2014 from the University of Georgia School of Law.