On Monday, Apri1 25, 2011, the California Legislature celebrated 50 years of service by African- American Justices on the California Courts of Appeal. Justice Edwin Jefferson, a then Los Angeles County Superior Court judge who was the state’s first Black trial judge with tenure of 20 years, was appointed by Gov. Edmund “Pat” Brown and took his seat on the Court of Appeal on October 1, 1961.
Since that time, 13 other African-American Justices have been appointed to Courts of Appeal based in San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Riverside, California.
Former Assemblyman John Miller, a native Savannahian, was the first African American Justice who had been a member of the Legislature where he served as assembly minority leader.
Miller, who died in 1986 was honored posthumously. He was a 1950 graduate of Woodville/Tompkins High School, and was a graduate of Howard University Law Schoo1 as well as the University of California at Berkley. Judge Miller was the brother of Edward G. Miller who continues to reside in Savannah, Georgia.
Honorary services were held at noon by both the Senate and the Assembly where resolutions were passed recognizing their achievements.
They were referred to by Sen. Curren Price, D-Los Angeles, as “brilliant trailblazers who have played integral roles in securing our basic freedoms and ensuring that all Californians have access to equal justice under the law”.