BATON ROUGE, La — Bernette J. Johnson, the first African-American Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, will be the commencement speaker when 714 Southern University students receive their diplomas at the 2013 spring commencement ceremony.
The event will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
Johnson was sworn in as Chief Justice on February 1. She was elected to serve on the Supreme Court in 1994 and was re-elected, without opposition, in 2000 and 2010. She has served on the Court’s Legal Services Task Force and has worked with the National Campaign on Best Practices in the area of Racial and Ethnic Fairness on the Court.
Her judicial career began in 1984 as the first woman elected to serve on the Civil District Court of New Orleans. She was re-elected, without opposition, in 1990 and was elected Chief Judge by her colleagues in 1994.
She has received a number of awards, including the 2009 Distinguished Jurist Award presented by the Louisiana Bar Foundation and the Louisiana Bar Association President’s Award for Exceptional Service as co-chair of the Task Force on Diversity in the Profession. She has twice been presented with the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society’s President’s Award, in 1997 and 2008.
In addition to her judicial responsibilities, Chief Justice Johnson has been actively involved in serving the community. She has served as an Executive Committee Member of the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College (1991-1994); Chair of the New Orleans Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1989-1994); Member of the Martin Luther King National Holiday Planning Committee; Member of the Board of Directors of the Young Women Christian Association; and Life Member of the NAACP.
Johnson received her undergraduate degree from Spelman College and her law degree from Louisiana State University.