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Bernice Donald is Confirmed to the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals

Posted Sep 6, 2011 7:11 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A longtime federal judge in Memphis, Tenn., breezed through the U.S. Senate confirmation process today with bipartisan support for a seat on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

After 30 minutes of debate, U.S. District Judge Bernice Donald was approved by a 96-2 vote, reports the Commercial Appeal.

She will be the first African-American woman to serve on the court, reports the Associated Press.

In a written statement provided to the ABA Journal, Donald thanks those responsible for nominating and confirming her and her longtime judicial colleagues.

"I also express my thanks to Chief Judge Alice Batchhelder and the judges of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for their graciousness in welcoming me and offering assistance as I prepare for this next chapter in my life," Donald says.

The daughter of a domestic worker and a self-taught mechanic, she is a graduate of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.

Donald, who turns 60 later this month, was a judge in Shelby County General Sessions Court before she was appointed to a seat on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in 1988. President Bill Clinton nominated her in 1996 to serve on the federal district court bench.

She was serving as secretary of the American Bar Association when she was nominated by President Barack Obama last year, a White House press release notes, and she is a member of the ABA Journal's Board of Editors.

In addition to her many other qualifications for the job, Donald has a "balanced judicial temperament" that will likely help promote collegiality among her 6th Circuit colleagues, law professor Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond tells the Commercial Appeal.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "ABA Secretary Wins Women Judges Award"

ABAJournal.com: "Barrier-Breaking US District Court Judge Is Nominated for Seat on 6th Circuit Court of Appeals"

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