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The Honorable Leah Ward Sears

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Information about The Honorable Leah Ward Sears

Profile image of The Honorable Leah Ward Sears

Profession

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

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Bright Green
Favorite Food:
Fried Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Slave Coast, Georgia
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
6/13/1955
Birth Location:
Heidelberg,

Profession

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

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Bright Green
Favorite Food:
Fried Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Slave Coast, Georgia
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
6/13/1955
Birth Location:
Heidelberg
See how The Honorable Leah Ward Sears is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

The Honorable Leah Ward Sears became the first woman and the youngest person ever to become a Georgia State Supreme Court Justice. Sears was born on June 13, 1955 in Heidelberg, Germany. She grew up traveling the globe with her family and father, Colonel Thomas Sears, who served as Master Army Aviator in the U.S. Army. The family eventually settled in Savannah, Georgia, where she attended elementary and high schools. In 1976, Sears earned her B.S. degree at Cornell University and moved to Atlanta, where she attended Emory University to earn her J.D. degree.

After earning her law degree, Sears decided to stay in Atlanta. There, she made a name for herself working as a trial lawyer for the law firm, Alston and Bird. In 1985, after five years of working, Mayor Andrew Young appointed her as a judge in Atlanta’s City Traffic Court. After serving three years in this position, Sears was appointed as a Superior Court judge for the state of Georgia. She became the first African American woman to hold such a position in the state of Georgia. In February of 1992, Governor Zell Miller appointed Sears to Georgia’s Supreme Court, where she became the first woman and the youngest person ever to serve. Sears retained her seat on the state’s Supreme Court by winning a statewide election in the fall of 1992. This made her the first woman to win a contested statewide election in Georgia. In 1993, Sears received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Morehouse College. She then continued her education and earned a LL.M degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Sears is currently the number two justice in Georgia’s Supreme Court. She is considered next in line to become the state’s chief justice.

Sears has several civic and professional affiliations. She served as chairman of both the American Bar Association’s Board of Elections and the Judicial Section of the Atlanta Bar’s Minority Clerkship Program. Sears founded and served as the first president of the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys. Currently, she serves as an adjunct professor of pretrial litigation at the Emory Law School Council and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. In 1998, Sears was named the “Georgia Woman of the Year” by the Georgia State Commission on Women. In 2001, she was the recipient of the Emory Medal from Emory University for being an “Outstanding Young Alumna”.

Sears is married to Haskell Sears Ward, and they have two children, a son, Addison, and a daughter, Brennan.

Sears was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 15, 2004.

See how The Honorable Leah Ward Sears is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Leah Ward Sears's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her mother's personality and career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes the socioeconomic status of her father's family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her father's personality and career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about how her father's career as a U.S. Army colonel affected her upbringing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears recalls her childhood personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes various schools she attended growing up
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about being a cheerleader at Alfred Ely Beach High School in Savannah, Georgia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears recounts the impact that her third grade teacher had upon her life
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her high school interests and personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her experiences at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears remembers her reaction to the political assassinations of 1968
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears remembers ideas she embraced as an undergraduate at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears recalls living in Wari House at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears relates how her views have changed on human development and family studies
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about how she became interested in studying law
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about attending law school during the early years of her first marriage
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her tenure working at Alston & Bird LLP in Atlanta, Georgia in the early 1980s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about becoming a judge on the City Court of Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears reflects on how she improved as a judge as she gained experience
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about continuing her education to enhance her capabilities as a judge
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears gives her perspective on televised court shows
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about being elected to Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta, Georgia at the age of thirty-two
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears offers her opinions on sentencing guidelines within the judicial system
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about the trial of Wayne Williams in 1982
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about memorable cases from her term on the Fulton County Superior Court
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears recalls being appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia in 1992
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about her relationship with older colleagues while serving on the Supreme Court of Georgia
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes the responsibilities of the Supreme Court of Georgia
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about memorable cases from her tenure on the Supreme Court of Georgia, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about memorable cases from her tenure on the Supreme Court of Georgia, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about her family
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes how she would like to be remembered