Judge Judy Johnson (right) takes the oath of office performed by U.S. District Judge Thelton E. Henderson on Feb. 1. Photo by Joe L. Fisher, Black American Political Action Committee.
The induction ceremony for Judge Judy Johnson in the Superior Court of California Contra Costa County was held on Feb.1, the oath of office performed by U.S. District Judge Thelton E. Henderson.
A champion of equal rights, Judge Johnson has fought to secure equality of opportunity within the legal profession. In 1994, she was the first woman and attorney of color to be chosen as the State Bar’s chief ethics prosecutor and the only person to be twice nominated and confirmed by the State Senate of California to serve in that position.
When the State Bar was in crisis, Judge Johnson became its executive director in 2000, the first woman and lawyer of color to serve in that capacity, responsible for administering an annual budget of approximately $140 million and a staff of 550.
She earned academic honors as a student in the Richmond Unified School District and won a full scholarship to Stanford University in 1967. In 1976, she graduated from King Hall Law School of Law at the University of California, Davis and was admitted to the bar.
As an Oakland Legal Aid attorney, she helped indigent citizens with their legal problems and joined other women lawyers to sue the Oakland Police Department for failing to respond to the calls of battered women seeking police protection and intervention.
In 1977, Judge Johnson was appointed Assistant District Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco, where she specialized in prosecuting complex civil and criminal prosecution of frauds, white-collar crime and violations of consumer protection laws.
She served as the first woman president of the Charles Houston Bar Association, Northern California’s oldest Black bar association.
Judge Johnson came out of retirement to accept an appointment by California Gov. Jerry Brown to the Contra Costa County Superior Court. Her current assignment is in Pittsburg.