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Adrienne Nelson Becomes First African American Appointed To Oregon Supreme Court

Adrienne Nelson Becomes First African American Appointed To Oregon Supreme Court


All photos by: Aimee Green/The Oregonian/OregonLive

Adrienne Nelson broke a glass ceiling in the legal field when she was appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court, making Nelson the first African American and second woman to serve on the state's highest court. She is also the first African American to serve on any kind of appellate court in Oregon.

After serving as a Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge for nearly 12 years, Nelson was appointed by Governor Kate Brown. At the time of her circuit court appointment in 2006, Nelson was the only African American judge in the Oregon state court system of about 200 judges. Today, there are five who are currently serving at the circuit court level. 

"In addition to her work in the courtroom, she has made extraordinary strides to make the trial bench more receptive to the needs and experiences of diverse and underserved communities in our state," Oregon Live reports Governor Brown saying in a news release.

"Judge Nelson is a widely respected civil rights champion, whose perspective on the bench moves us closer to our shared vision of justice for all."

Judge Nelson grew up in Arkansas where she experienced the process of the court system firsthand as a graduating high school senior. When she was not permitted to be recognized as the valedictorian of her class because she was African American, her mother sued the school district and won. Thus began her passionate pursuit of justice and fair treatment for all people. Her Supreme Court appointment is effective immediately.

Congratulations, Judge Nelson! Thank you for blazing a trail and being an inspiration to future Black women in law.