Women in the Law

Barrier-Breaking US District Court Judge Is Nominated for Seat on 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

  • Print.

An award-winning, barrier-breaking federal district court judge has been nominated by President Barack Obama for a seat on the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Bernice Bouie Donald, who became the first female African-American bankruptcy judge in the country in 1988, and has been a federal district court judge in the Western District of Tennessee for the past 15 years, is now poised to ascend to an appeals court seat if her nomination is approved, according to a White House press release.

She became the first female African-American judge elected to the bench in Tennessee history in 1982, the release says.

Donald, who is the Secretary of the American Bar Association, also serves on the ABA Journal’s Board of Editors. Among many other distinctions, she is the first African-American woman to hold an officer position at the ABA, notes a 2008 Your ABA article.

In a Just the Beginning Foundation profile, she says working in Shelby County as a public defender fueled her desire to become a judge:

“I felt that many judges did not ensure equal justice for poor people,” explains Donald. “I felt that according dignity and respect to all litigants regardless of race, class, socioeconomic status, or gender were critical to the preservation of our justice system, and that I could play an important role in fostering that environment.”

Additional coverage:

Commercial Appeal: “Obama nominates Judge Bernice Donald for U.S. Court of Appeals”

ABAJournal.com (2008): “ABA Secretary Wins Women Judges Award”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.