MIAMI – More than a half dozen legal associations representing Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties will hold a press conference on Wednesday, June 28, 2023, at 10:30 a.m. to urge President Joe Biden to nominate a Black woman to the federal court overseeing South Florida.
The first Black president of The Florida Bar, Mr. Eugene Pettis, Esq., will provide remarks on behalf of the legal community along with other speakers in downtown Miami near the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. Courthouse.
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida has had only one Black woman serve as a district court judge in its 176-year history: the Hon. Marcia Cooke. Judge Cooke was appointed in 2004, becoming the first and only Black woman to serve as a district court judge in the Southern District. She passed away earlier this year, leaving no Black women serving as a district court judge in South Florida.
President Biden has made historic judicial appointments of qualified Black women to the federal bench. The president and his administration acknowledge the importance of having a federal judiciary that looks like the community it serves.
However, of the four open or soon-to-be vacant federal judgeships in South Florida, none are currently slated to be filled by a Black woman, according to numerous local reports. This is troubling especially given that Democratic- and Republican-led judicial nominating commissions nominated three qualified Black women to be considered for appointment to the bench.
The Judicial Diversity Initiative (JDI) is organizing the press conference on behalf of its member organizations and its allies in the South Florida community. The press conference will occur near the east side of the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. Courthouse, the flagship courthouse for the Southern District of Florida and the seat of justice from which Judge Cooke presided for nearly 20 years.
JDI is a coalition of Black bar associations whose member organizations include the Caribbean Bar Association; the F. Malcolm Cunningham, Sr. Bar Association (Palm Beach County); the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association; the Haitian Lawyers Association; the National Black Prosecutors Association – South Florida Chapter; the TJ Reddick Bar Association (Broward County); and the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. Bar Association (Miami-Dade County). JDI’s attorneys serve or have served in the leadership of the Black bar associations and other community organizations in South Florida and are committed to fostering a qualified judiciary that reflects the diversity of the community it serves.