In Memoriam

A History-making Black Judge
Hon. Theodore R. Newman Jr. ’55

June 26th, 2023
Hon. Theodore R. Newman Jr. ’55

Hon. Theodore R. Newman Jr. ’55, of Washington, D.C.; Jan. 6, of a heart attack. Newman was the first Black chief judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals and the first Black jurist nationally to head a state level court system. After graduation from Harvard Law School, he served as a judge advocate for the U.S. Air Force in France from 1958 to 1961, then moved to Washington, D.C., and worked briefly in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. He entered private practice in 1962 and was an associate at Houston, Bryant & Gardner. He later was a partner at Pratt, Bowers & Newman before joining the bench. In 1970, he was appointed associate judge on the D.C. Superior Court by President Richard M. Nixon. Six years later, President Gerald Ford named him to the D.C. Court of Appeals, where he was quickly promoted from associate judge to chief judge, serving two terms from 1976 to 1984. Instead of seeking a third term, Newman returned to his position as associate judge, took senior status in 1991, and remained on the bench until his retirement in 2016. During his tenure as chief judge, he appeared in Ebony magazine’s rankings of the 100 Most Influential African Americans. He joined the Brown Board of Trustees in 1979, and the following year Brown conferred an honorary doctorate of law upon him. In addition to his judicial duties, Newman taught at Harvard Law School, Howard University School of Law, and Georgetown University Law Center. He served as president of the National Center for State Courts and as chair of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association, which honored him in 1984 with the C. Francis Stradford Award. In 1988 he was the recipient of the Judicial Council’s William H. Hastie Award. He is survived by his companion of 30 years, Eulla Wilson.

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