State superior court judge and county attorney Teri L. Jackson was born in 1957 to Beatrice and Alson Jackson in Berkeley, California, where she grew up with her sister, Portia Collins. After watching the movie To Kill a Mockingbird, she developed an interest in the justice system. Jackson graduated from Jefferson High School at the age of sixteen and began her studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she earned her B.A. degrees in politics and history in 1977. She then went on to earn her J.D. degree from Georgetown University Law School in 1980.
Upon passing her bar exam, Jackson was hired as a deputy district attorney of San Mateo County, where she works as a trial attorney. Three years later, she began work as a prosecutor for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, serving in the domestic violence unit, the felony charging unit, and the felony sexual assault unit. Throughout her career, Jackson has worked to combat domestic abuse in the Bay Area. In 1988, she became the first person to successfully introduce expert testimony regarding elder abuse syndrome in a court case. In 1995, she co-founded the First Offender Prostitution Program (FOPP), a rehabilitation course for individuals arrested for their involvement with prostitution. The program was replicated in other American cities within years of its founding. Jackson became the first woman to head up a homicide unit in the state of California upon her promotion to head district attorney’s homicide unit in 1997.
After working in private practice with the law firm, of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP, Jackson was appointed to Superior Court Judge of California for the County of San Francisco in 2002. She was the first African American woman to serve in this position. She worked with an assortment of cases, including litigation in employment, trade secrets, the environment, real estate, and bankruptcy. Jackson has worked to increase the number of minorities working within the legal system, serving as an adjunct law professor at Hastings School of Law. Jackson is the recipient of the 2006 Rosina Tucker Award from the A. Philip Randolph Institute and the 2007 Community Service Award from the National Council of Negro Women, Inc.
Jackson is married to Imro Shair-Ali.
Teri L. Jackson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 6, 2011.