City of Miami honors its black legal pioneers

first_img May 1, 2001 Regular News City of Miami honors its black legal pioneers During Black History Month, the elected officials of the City of Miami recognized and honored the legal pioneers who served as municipal court judges in the black community during 1950-1964.Proclamations were issued to the judges and their families at a February commission meeting. The program was coordinated by the City Attorney’s Office.In 1950, the City of Miami established, as part of its municipal court system, a jurisdictional district that served the black community. The court was known as the “Negro Municipal Court” and it was located in the newly constructed “Negro Police Precinct.” On April 19, 1950, City of Miami Commissioner Robert L. Floyd nominated Lawson E. Thomas (deceased) to be a municipal judge. He was unanimously appointed by the city commission to preside over the new court, becoming the first black judge in the South since the Reconstruction era, and presided over the court throughout the 1950s and the 1960s. In the late 1950s, John D. Johnson was also appointed as a municipal judge over the “Negro Municipal Court,” becoming the second black judge to be appointed in the City of Miami. The court’s jurisdiction was abolished in 1964, and the cases were integrated with the other municipal courts in the city.Proclamations were presented to Judge Johnson and Eugenia Thomas, Judge Thomas’ widow. Also recognized were Judge Donald Wheeler Jones, the first black judge to preside over an integrated court in Florida; Judge Henry Arrington (deceased); and Judge Harold Braynon, the last black attorney to be appointed as a municipal judge for the City of Miami. Judge Jones is currently the dean of students at Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville. Judge Braynon recently retired from his law practice.Presiding over the event was George F. Knox, former city attorney for Miami. City of Miami honors its black legal pioneerslast_img

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