Lucile Alexandra Watts (1920–June 23, 2018) was an American judge. After 20 years as a private practice lawyer, Watts was elected a Wayne County Circuit Court judge in 1980. She was the first black woman to be elected as a circuit court judge in Michigan.

Early life

Watts was born in Homeville, Virginia in 1920.[1] She grew up in Alliance, Ohio, where she attended Alliance High School followed by the University of Detroit for her bachelor's degree.[2] While earning her LLB from Detroit College of Law in 1962, she was one of the only woman law student in the legal daytime program.[3] Upon graduating, she started her own practice after being unable to find work due to her gender.[4]

Career

As a private practice lawyer, Watts was recruited by Great Lakes Mutual Insurance Company to assist with the release of black men arrested during the 1967 Detroit riot.[4] She joined other African-American lawyers in the community to organize and coordinate in defending the men and seeking their release.[5]

After 20 years as a private practice lawyer, Watts was elected a Wayne County Circuit Court judge in 1980. She was the first black woman to be elected as a circuit court judge in Michigan.[2] Prior to her death in 2018, Watts served as a board member at Focus: HOPE for 20 years, Woodward Academy, the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit, Black Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, a lifetime member of the NAACP, and a National Honorary Member of Distinction of the Gamma Phi Delta Sorority.[6] Watts died in her sleep on June 23, 2018, in her Detroit home.[5]

References

  1. ^ "Lucille Watts, June 21st, 2016". detroithistorical.org. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Lucile A. Watts – Graduated 1939; Inducted 1985". ahsalumnifoundation.org. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  3. ^ "IN HER OWN WORDS: An Incomplete History of Women at the Law College". law.msu.edu. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Anderson, Elisha (July 27, 2017). "Detroit '67: Black lawyer felt obligation to do more than stay home". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Dixon, Jennifer (June 23, 2018). "Lucile Watts, Wayne County's first black, female judge, has died at age 97". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  6. ^ "Hon. Lucile A. Watts". miwf.org. Michigan Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 3, 2021.