The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

The Honorable Debra James

Share on Social Media

Information about The Honorable Debra James

Profile image of The Honorable Debra James

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
State Supreme Court Judge

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Yellow
Favorite Food:
Black Beans, Rice
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Caribbean
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
2/16/1953
Birth Location:
Knoxville, Tennessee

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
State Supreme Court Judge

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Yellow
Favorite Food:
Black Beans, Rice
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Caribbean
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
2/16/1953
Birth Location:
Knoxville
See how The Honorable Debra James is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Judge Debra Ann James was born on February 16, 1953 in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her early childhood, the family relocated to St. Albans, Queens, New York. James attended Monmouth Regional High School in New Jersey where she was a member of the student council and the honor society. She earned her high school diploma in 1971.

James received her B.A. degree in American government and political science in 1975 and her J.D. degree in 1978 from Cornell University. After graduating, James worked as the assistant corporation counsel for New York City. She represented municipal corporations in trial and appellate courts. In 1983, she served as associate counsel for New York State Mortgage Loan Enforcement and Administration Corporation. James then went on to work for the New York Mortgage Agency. Prior to running for judgeship on the New York civil court, she served as general counsel for the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation.

In 1994, James was elected to the New York City Civil Court. During her tenure on the bench, James has managed thousands of lawsuits across a variety of areas. In 2002, James was appointed acting state supreme court justice.

A resident of Harlem for more than twenty years, James is a member of a number of professional and civic organizations. She is an avid reader, jazz music enthusiast, and art collector.

James was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 31, 2005.

See how The Honorable Debra James is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Debra James' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Debra James lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Debra James describe her mother, Elizabeth Kemp James
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Debra James describes her father, Edward James
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Debra James talks about how her parents met and their early married life
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Debra James describes her earliest memory of growing up
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Debra James talks about her grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Debra James talks about her siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Debra James describes her childhood neighborhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Debra James recalls holiday celebrations in her childhood home
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Debra James describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Debra James talks about her elementary school years at P.S. 34 in Queens Village, New York, pt.1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Debra James talks about her elementary school years at P.S. 34 in Queens Village, New York, pt.2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Debra James talks about her junior high years
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Debra James describes her personality in junior high
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Debra James describes the impact of her family's move from New York to Tinton Falls, New Jersey
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Debra James recalls her experience at Monmouth Regional High School in Tinton Falls, New Jersey
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Debra James talks about her early aspirations as a high school student
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Debra James describes the role of church in her childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Debra James describes the factors that informed her passion for justice
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Debra James talks about her decision to attend Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and the student takeover of Straight Hall in 1969
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Debra James talks about her experience at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Debra James recalls her decision to study law
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Debra James describes her experience at Cornell Law School in Ithaca, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Debra James talks about her first job as assistant corporation counsel for the City of New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Debra James describes her tenure on the New York State Mortgage Loan Enforcement and Administration Corporation
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Debra James recalls the challenges she faced in the job market as an African American woman after graduating from Cornell Law School in 1978
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Debra James describes why she moved to Harlem in New York City, New York and how she became a judge
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Debra James talks about running for a judgeship in Harlem
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Debra James describes the controversy surrounding elected judges in New York State
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Debra James talks about her first campaign for a judgeship
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Debra James describes her experience with criminal cases
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Debra James comments on memorable cases from the Civil Court of the City of New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Debra James talks about her appointment to the New York Supreme Court
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Debra James talks about the difference between lawyers and judges
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Debra James talks about the qualities a judge possesses
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Debra James talks about Rochdale Holding Corp. v. Neuendorf
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Debra James describes the increase of gender and ethnic diversity on the bench
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Debra James describes herself as a judge
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Debra James shares her advice for lawyers and for aspiring lawyers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Debra James talks about reality-based court shows on TV and the importance of jurors
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Debra James talks about appellate authority over jury decisions
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Debra James describes how the African American experience informs her perspective
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Debra James talks about her desires to be an appellate court judge
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Debra James reflects upon her position as a role model
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Debra James talks about what she would do differently
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Debra James describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Debra James talks about how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Debra James talks about the importance of history
  • Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Debra James talks about her values
  • Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Debra James reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 16 - Debra James describes her greatest accomplishment
  • Tape: 4 Story: 17 - Debra James talks about the importance of art
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Debra James narrates her photographs