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Born in 1928, Geraldine Bledsoe-Ford was the first African-American to be elected as a judge in the United States. She was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. In 1966, she scored a surprising upset victory to become a judge on the Detroit Recorders Court. Ford’s qualifications swept the election and she led the ticket repeatedly for the following 33 years. After a court reorganization, she served another year as a Circuit Court Judge, before retiring in 1999.
She spent much of her career hearing criminal cases. On the bench she was known as “Mean Geraldine” to unprepared attorneys and those to whom she issued tough prison sentences. However, Judge Ford also had a softer side; serving as a mentor to many aspiring lawyers. Her daughter, Deborah Geraldine Bledsoe-Ford also served as a judge in Detroit as well.
Geraldine Bledsoe-Ford died in 2003.
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