First African-American Federal Judge in Ark. Dies

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Putting an end to a long career of “firsts,” Arkansas federal judge George Howard Jr. died April 21. He was 82.

The first African-American judge to sit on a federal court bench in the state, Howard was also the first African-American to do so on the state supreme and appellate courts, too, before being appointed to the federal bench in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter, Arkansas Business reports. He was inspired to go to law school by experiencing discrimination while serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Howard came to national attention when he presided over the so-called Whitewater trials of associates of Bill and Hillary Clinton, which concerned an allegedly fraudulent real estate investment. The president and his wife had been partners in the investment, but were never charged, the article notes.

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