McGee Brown sworn in as first African-American woman on state’s highest court

10 Dec 2010 12:12 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

During a momentous week for the Ohio judiciary, Yvette McGee Brown was sworn in as the first African- American woman justice in the 207- year history of the Supreme Court of Ohio.    Her swearing-in came after Jus- tice Maureen O'Connor took the oath of office the day before, becoming the first woman to serve as Ohio's chief justice. Governor Ted Strickland ap- pointed former judge McGee Brown to the Supreme Court in early December when the seat became open after Jus- tice O’Connor was elected as Chief Justice in November.

Governor Strickland administered the oath of office to McGee Brown during a public swearing-in ceremony at the King Arts Complex in the Columbus neighborhood where she was raised. More than 750 people from across Ohio gathered to celebrate the historic event. McGee Brown follows former Justices Robert M. Duncan and Lloyd O. Brown as the third African-Ameri- can member of Ohio’s high court and is the eighth woman to serve on the Court. With her appointment, the Court has its third ever female majority.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Ohio State Bar Association President Carmen V. Roberto, and Judge Nathaniel R. Jones of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals offered remarks.

“And, with her addition, she will com- prise just the third-ever female majority on the Ohio Supreme Court in its his- tory. And, this time, we’re gonna make it stick,” Chief Justice O’Connor said. “I’m happy to call her a colleague, ex- cited that such an accomplished, re- spected public servant has joined the Court, and looking forward to tackling the important work we have ahead of us in a collaborative manner with her and the other members of the Court.”

Retired Judge Nathaniel R. Jones of- fered remarks on behalf of Ohio’s first African-American justice. Justice Robert M. Duncan was unable to attend the ceremony.

“Justice Brown arrived at this point of her life after hammering out her thought processundefinedher legal and analyti- cal skillsundefinedon sturdy anvils that con- fronted her in her youth as a child in a single-parent home and through her subsequent achievements grounded in a mental discipline of hard work, in- tegrity, judicial experience, and deter- mination that undergirded a genuine respect for the legal system,” said Judge Jones.

“This prepared her to search for solu- tions to the complex problems that con- front society. As she pursues her arduous duties as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio, Yvette McGee Brown’s colleagues, the advocates that argue their claims before its bar, and the public at large, will come to know that she, as was Justice Duncan, is a consti- tutionalist,” continued Judge Jones.

McGee Brown said she was honored to join the Court during historic times. “I have tremendous respect for the Court and the important role it has in our democracy,” she said. “I am humbled by this opportunity and consider it a privi- lege to serve with the other distin- guished jurists on the Court.”

A series of firsts defines the judicial ca- reer of Justice Yvette McGee Brown. Justice McGee Brown was first elected to the Franklin County Court of Com- mon Pleas, Domestic Relations and Ju- venile Division in 1992. As lead juvenile court judge, McGee Brown led the cre- ation of the Family Drug Court and the SMART Program, truancy and educa- tional neglect intervention program. She served on the court until 2002, when she retired from the bench to create the Cen- ter for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She served as founding president until early 2010, when she became a candidate for lieutenant governor of Ohio.

Justice McGee Brown graduated from Ohio University in 1982 with a degree in journalism/public relations. She contin- ued her education at The Ohio State Uni- versity Moritz College of Law, earning her juris doctorate in 1985. In 2008, Jus- tice McGee Brown was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame. Among her many honors, she has received the Champion of Children Award, YWCA Woman of Achievement Award and sev- eral honors from Ohio University and The Ohio State University.

The Ohio Women’s Bar Association salutes Justice McGee Brown for her groundbreaking work to advance the in- terests of women in and under the law. The OWBA celebrates with pride Justice McGee Brown’s success and remarkable achievements as she continues to make history in her community and in the State of Ohio.

Ohio Women's Bar Association | 7946 Clyo Road, Suite A | Centerville, Ohio 45459| Phone (866) 932-6922 | Email

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