CONTACT PERSON: VALERIE S. WILLARD
PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER
| APRIL 16, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson was presented the 2015 Diversity Leadership Award today by the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Litigation during the Diversity Leadership & John Minor Wisdom Awards Luncheon held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans.
“The Diversity Leadership Award recognizes individuals or entities who have demonstrated a commitment to promoting full and equal participation in the legal community through encouragement and inclusion of women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and/or persons of differing sexual orientations and gender identities. Chief Justice Johnson is well-deserving of this recognition,” said Nancy Scott Degan, Chair, ABA Section of Litigation.
A graduate of Spelman College in 1964, Chief Justice Johnson was one of the first African-America women to attend the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University (LSU), where she received her law degree in 1969. Chief Justice Johnson’s judicial career began in 1984 when she became the first woman elected to serve on the Civil District Court in New Orleans. In 1994, she was elected to serve on the Louisiana Supreme Court and was re-elected without opposition in 2000 and 2010. She attained another “first” on February 1, 2013 when she was sworn-in as Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, making her the first African-American Chief Justice. In May of 2013, Chief Justice Johnson was inducted as an honorary member of LSU Law Center’s local chapter of the Order of the Coif and she delivered the Commencement Address at Southern University as well as her alma mater, LSU Law Center.
Chief Justice Johnson has long been an advocate for social justice and civil rights. She worked as a community organizer with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense & Educational Fund, and worked for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Following law school, she became the Managing Attorney of the New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation (NOLAC), where she provided legal services to clients in socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Additionally, she practiced in federal, state and juvenile courts advancing the rights of children, the poor, the elderly and the disenfranchised.
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