Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell Leads Black Caucus in Commemoration of 50th Anniversary of Blacks on Appeals Court

April 25, 2011

Freshman Assemblymember Holly Mitchell (D-47th District) had the honor of presiding at the special ceremony held April 25 at the initiative of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) on the Assembly floor of the State Capitol to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the appointment of the first African American to California's Court of Appeals, and to celebrate the service of black Americans subsequently appointed to the bench of California's higher courts.

Edwin L. Jefferson's appointment in 1961 as the first African American to serve on the California Court of Appeal was a momentous advance on a new front in the civil rights movement of California and the nation, commented Assemblymember Mitchell, who serves on the Public Safety Committee. In 1941 Mr. Jefferson was the first African American ever appointed a judge in California. He opened a door through which a steadily increasing number of African American jurists continue to walk, proudly offering their legal expertise and cultural experience in the service of justice.

California's pioneer black justices, or their family members, were escorted onto the floor of the Assembly during the ceremony by a member of the CLBC, presented a state resolution of commendation, given a Capitol reception, and invited to tour a photo exhibit documenting black judicial history in the Capitol Rotunda.

I am especially proud to acknowledge the Honorable Carol D. Codrington of the California Court of Appeal in Riverside, the Assemblywoman noted. Justice Codrington is the only African-American woman currently serving as a justice anywhere in the state of California, and is only the fourth African-American woman to serve as a justice in the state's history.

Over the last 50 years 14 black justices have served on California's Appellate courts, including those who are currently on the bench. Three justices have also served on the California Supreme Court.

Equal justice isn't just about preventing police brutality or the right to a jury trial when you're accused of a crime, said the Assemblywoman, whose district includes much of South Los Angeles, It is also about actively participating in the administration of justice, standing on the other side of the bench in court. It's about applying the law to individual cases as a judge and interpreting law in light of our state and federal constitutions. A ‘fair trial' isn't fair if the judge will never look like you.

CONTACT:  Charles Stewart @ (310)482-1070