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The Honorable Vaino Spencer

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Information about The Honorable Vaino Spencer

Profile image of The Honorable Vaino Spencer

Profession

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

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
7/22/1920
Birth Location:
Los Angeles, California

Profession

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

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
7/22/1920
Birth Location:
Los Angeles
See how The Honorable Vaino Spencer is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Superior Court Judge Vaino Hassan Spencer was born on July 22, 1920 in Los Angeles, California to Ada Nona and Abdul Hassan. Spencer graduated from Polytechnic High School in Los Angeles in 1938, and went on to receive her A.A. degree from Los Angeles City College in 1949. Spencer earned her L.L.B. degree from Southwestern University School of Law in 1952.

After obtaining her law degree, Spencer worked as a general practice attorney at law in Los Angeles until 1961. She then became the first African American woman to serve on the bench in California as the Municipal Court Judge for the Los Angeles Judicial District. Spencer served in this capacity until 1976, then was appointed as the Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge, a position she held until 1980.

In 1979, Spencer and fellow presiding justice Joan Dempsey Klein, founded the National Association of Women Judges, an organization intended to help promote women candidates on the bench. Spencer and Klein traveled around the country and met with judges, bar leaders, politicians and journalists to discuss the need for more women in the court room. The organization eventually set up a lecture series and established an annual conference for the association’s growing membership.

In 1980, Spencer began serving as the Presiding Judge of the Division One California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, a position she held for over twenty years.

Throughout her career, Spencer served on a number of judicial and law oriented boards, including the Judicial Council Justice Planning Committee, the Judicial Council of California, the Los Angeles County Commission on Justice and the California Law Revision Committee. Additionally, Spencer received various accolades for her groundbreaking law work, including the Outstanding Jurist Award in 2001, Metropolitan News-Enterprise’ Person of the Year Award in 1991, and the 1985 Trailblazer Award from the National Association of Business and Professional Women.

Spencer was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 22, 2006.

Spencer passed away on October 25, 2016.

See how The Honorable Vaino Spencer is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Vaino Spencer's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer describes her parents and siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer describes her neighborhood in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer talks about her early family life
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls the role of religion in her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer describes her childhood friends
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer remembers Thomas Alva Edison Junior High School in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls graduating valedictorian from John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls her brother's athletic career
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls her high school journalism class, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls her high school journalism class, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer describes Los Angeles' restrictive covenants
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls her difficulty finding work in journalism
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls her early career in real estate
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer describes her real estate career in Los Angeles
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer remembers challenging restrictive covenants
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls her decision to become an attorney
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer remembers studying for the bar exam
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls founding a student bar association
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer reflects upon the bar exam's low pass rate
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer remembers meeting her husband, Lorenzo Spencer
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer remembers establishing her legal practice
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls the civil rights lawsuits of the 1950s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer talks about the John M. Langston Bar Association
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer describes her legal association memberships
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls her first judicial appointment
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer talks about organizing the Democratic Minority Conference
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls campaigning for black candidates for Los Angeles City Council
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls becoming California's first black female judge
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls how black male lawyers failed to support her appointment as judge
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer describes her early judicial career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer reflects upon her early reputation as a judge
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls her promotion to the Los Angeles County Superior Court
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer describes her tenure on the Los Angeles County Superior Court
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls her conflict with a court administrator
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls her reelection to the Los Angeles County Superior Court
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls joining the California Court of Appeal for the Second District
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls the case of Mary M. v. City of Los Angeles
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer talks about the conviction of Geronimo Pratt
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer recalls vacating Geronimo Pratt's conviction
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer describes the bias against defendants
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer describes the importance of judicial independence
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer describes the threat of special interest groups to the judiciary
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer reflects upon the cases she heard as a judge
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer describes her future plans
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer narrates her photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer narrates her photographs, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - The Honorable Vaino Spencer narrates her photographs, pt. 3