Judge Theodore Newman Jr. has died at age 88


Theodore R. Newman Jr., it was in 1976 The first black chief justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals, the city’s highest court and the first African-American lawyer to preside over a state-level judiciary, died Jan. 6 at a Washington hospital. He was 88 years old.

The cause was a heart attack, said his partner Ella Wilson.

Judge Newman grew up in Jim Crow, Alabama, and attended Harvard Law School before embarking on a career that included serving as a law clerk, working in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and in private practice specializing in estate planning and administration. .

A Republican, he was nominated in 1970 by President Richard M. DC Supreme Court. When The Washington Post took the stand in 1976, he was described as “fair to the government and tough on criminals.”

That same year, President Gerald Ford appointed Judge Newman to be an Associate Justice of the United States Court of Appeals. He was almost immediately promoted to Chief Justice, a largely administrative position, and was reappointed in 1980 for another four-year term. He refused to run for a third term due to personal conflicts with his colleagues regarding the administration of the courts.

During his years as Chief Justice, Judge Newman appeared Ebony magazine’s ranking of the 100 most influential African Americans. Toward the end of his tenure overseeing the court, he lamented to the Journal that only nine of the nearly 600 black judges in the country were employed. served on the highest state and D.C. courts, adding that “the highest state courts in the country make much of the law that affects the daily lives of the poor, blacks and other disadvantaged people.”

Judge Newman was a senior judge on the bench from 1991 until his retirement in 2016.

Theodore Roosevelt Newman Jr., known to his colleagues as Ted, was born on July 5, 1934, in Birmingham, Alabama, and grew up in Tuskegee, Alabama. His father was a Methodist minister, and his mother was a school teacher.

In 1951, Gill graduated from Mount Hermon School, now Northfield, a private school in Gill, Pa., and earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Brown University in 1955.

He told the Post that prominent civil rights leaders urged him to become the first black graduate of the University of Alabama Law School, but he agreed instead. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1958. He said his goal was to “return to Tuskegee, practice law, right the wrongs of society.”

But for three years he worked as a judge in the Air Force stationed in France, where he developed A lifelong passion for fine wine and French culture has expanded his ambitions beyond his small southern town.

He settled in Washington, dabbled in GOP politics and briefly worked at the Justice Department before entering private practice as a partner at the prestigious black law firm Houston, Bryant & Gardner. He later became a partner in another black firm, Pratt, Bowers & Newman. ago connect A chair.

Among other professional duties, Judge Newman is a past president of the National Center for State Courts and a past chairman of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association, an organization dedicated to black lawyers.

His former marriage to Constance Berry, who later became director of the federal Office of Personnel Management and assistant secretary of state for African affairs; Louise Bailey; and Gloria Sulton divorced.

Survivors include her partner of 30 years, Judge Newman of Clinton, MD, a resident of Washington.

Early in his legal career, Judge Newman said, he considered a political career and considered returning to Alabama to run for a seat in Congress. He said that politics did not suit his temperament.

“I appreciate the right to say I’m going to hell, and I am,” he told the Post in 1976. “In the political arena, the right to do it may not be so great. The question is where you can have the most impact in the law. The answer was in the chair.

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