2017 Judge in Residence Program featuring Hon. Bernice B. Donald
Date: February 20-22, 2017
School Wide Talk: “Undermining Democracy through Felony Disenfranchisement Laws”
Date: February 20, 2017
Time: 12:10 p.m.
Location: Rm. 114
Check out photos from her visit: Judge Donald
Check out the Judge Donald Interview video
About the Speaker
Judge Donald was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit by President Obama in 2010 and was confirmed by the Senate in September, 2011, becoming the first female African-American judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Prior to joining the Court of Appeals, Judge Donald served on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, where she was appointed by President Clinton in December 1995. Judge Donald served as Judge of U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee from June 1988 to January 1996, where she was the first African American woman to serve as a federal bankruptcy judge. When she was elected to the General Sessions Criminal Court in 1982, she became the first African American woman to serve as a judge in the history of the State of Tennessee. Judge Donald received her law degree from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law where she has served as an adjunct faculty member. Judge Donald was born in DeSoto County, Miss., in 1951, the sixth of 10 children of a domestic worker and a self-taught mechanic.
Judge Donald has lectured and trained judges around the world. She frequently serves as faculty for the Federal Judicial Center and the National Judicial College. She has taught at international programs in Romania, Mexico, Turkey, Brazil, Bosnia, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Russia, Egypt, Morocco, Thailand, Armenia, Jamaica, and Manila. In 2003, Judge Donald led a People to People delegation to Johannesburg and Capetown, South Africa and traveled to Zimbabwe to monitor the trial of a judge accused of judicial misconduct.
Judge Donald has served as secretary of the American Bar Association (the first African-American woman to serve as an officer in the history of the association) and President of the American Bar Foundation. A longtime champion of civil rights and inclusion, she also chaired the ABA Commission on Opportunities for Minorities in the Profession, where she established the Spirit of Excellence Award. She also has served as President of the National Association of Women Judges, President of the Association of Women Attorneys, co-chair of the Task Force on Implicit Bias and Diversity for the ABA Section of Litigation, and co-chair of the Diversity Committee for the ABA’s Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section. In 2013, Judge Donald was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Judicature Society.
Judge Donald has been the recipient of over 100 awards for professional, civic, and community activities, including the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Memphis, the Martin Luther King Community Service Award, and the Benjamin Hooks Award presented in 2002 by the Memphis Bar Foundation. During the 2013 annual meeting of the National Bar Association, Judge Donald received the William H. Hastie Award, which recognizes excellence in legal and judicial scholarship and demonstrated commitment to justice under the law. In 2013, Judge Donald also received the Difference Makers Award from the Solo, Small Firm & General Practice Division of the American Bar Association, and the Pioneer Award from her fellow classmates at East Side High. In 2014, Judge Donald received both the University of Virginia’s Justice William Brennan Award and the American Bar Association’s John H. Pickering Award of Achievement, which recognizes dedication to the cause of equal justice for all and the highest standards of ethics and professionalism in the law.