Jeff Co. Judge Elisabeth French, first female African American Presiding Judge in Alabama


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The newly elected Presiding Judge over the state courts in Jefferson County is a woman for the first time ever.

Judge Elisabeth French is the first woman selected to serve at the helm of the Jefferson County judicial system since its beginning in 1821.

She will replace Judge Joseph Boohaker who is retiring on February 29, 2020. The Presiding Judge is selected by the Circuit Judges of the 10th Judicial Circuit. 

Judge French will begin her historic tenure as Presiding Judge on March 1, 2020.    

As Presiding Judge, she is responsible for assigning Judges to established divisions, executing the administrative duties of the Courts, making sure that the Courts function properly and having general supervisory authority over court officials.

Judge French will also continue to hear cases.

The 10th Judicial Circuit is the largest Circuit of the Alabama Judicial System and consists of a total of 38 Judges, including 26 Circuit Judges and 12 District Judges.

French is the first female African American Presiding Judge in the state of Alabama.

In November of 2010, Judge French was elected as a Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge. She was re-elected in 2016. During her tenure on the bench, French has disposed of thousands of cases. Prior to that in the private practice of law for 14 years, French managed complex litigation.

Judge French attended the University of Montevallo on an athletic scholarship (volleyball) and received her bachelor’s degree with a double major in Political Science and Spanish in 1993. She earned her juris doctorate from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in 1997. 

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