Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Retired L.A. Superior Court Judge Glenette Blackwell Dead at 72
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Services are pending for retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Glenette Blackwell, who died last week at age 72, sources said yesterday.
Blackwell was a Superior Court referee from 1977 to 1980, a Los Angeles Municipal Court judge from 1980 until court unification in 2000, and a Superior Court judge until she retired in 2001.
She began practicing law in 1961 after graduating from Southwestern University School of Law. Her undergraduate degree was from USC, which she attended on a debate scholarship.
Joe Cerrell, who heads the political consulting and lobbying firm of Cerrell Associates, was also a member of that debate squad, and yesterday he recalled his first meeting with Blackwell, 53 years ago.
Drawn to a piece of jewelry she was wearing, Cerrell told the MetNews, he remarked to Blackwell that he had never before seen a black person wearing the Star of David, an important symbol of Judaism. Blackwell responded that she was Jewish, adding “I have a couple of strikes against me, don’t I.”
Cerrell, whose firm has represented numerous judges facing potential or actual re-election challenges, said Blackwell—who was recognized as one of the first 10 black females to practice law in Los Angeles—was the only Jewish African American woman judge he ever knew of.
“She was certainly a pioneer,” he commented.
A native of Missouri, she was a sole practitioner before joining the Crenshaw-area law firm that became Matthews, LaVigne, Rogers & Blackwell in the 1970s. She had a general practice that included criminal and juvenile cases, and also did pro bono work for a substance abuse program, indigent litigants in federal court, the Los Angeles Legal Aid Society, and federal housing programs.
She served as historian of the Black Women Lawyers of Los Angeles, was a life member of the NAACP, and served on the boards of what was then the West Valley College of Law, the United Negro College Fund, and the American Red Magen David for Israel. She also taught at the California Judicial College and was for a number of years in charge of the enrobing ceremonies for new Los Angeles Municipal Court judges.
Her husband, Herbert M. Klein, died in 2003, 10 years after retiring as a Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner. Survivors include her son, John Klein.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company