This year, the Ninth Circuit celebrated Black History Month on social media by highlighting several "firsts" in the legal profession. These included historical figures like Thurgood Marshall (the first African-American Supreme Court Justice), Loretta Lynch (the first female African-American Attorney General of the United States), and Jane Matilda Bolin (the first African-American woman to serve as a judge in the US).

We chose these figures to set the scene for the Ninth Circuit's own judges, who are trailblazers in their own rights, their dedication to the law and the bench leaving their mark on history.

  • Judge Emerson R. Thompson, Jr. became the first male African-American judge in Orange County, Florida in 1976.
  • Judge Theotis Bronson served on the bench for over 25 years and currently serves as a senior judge.
  • Judge Reginald K. Whitehead has served as a judge in our circuit since 1994.
  • When she was appointed in 2005, Judge Faye L. Allen was the only African-American female jurist serving the Ninth Circuit.
  • Judge Alicia L. Latimore was the first African-American woman to serve as a circuit judge in Orange County, Florida.
  • Judge Tanya Davis Wilson is one of the very few judges to have worked in the state and federal court systems as both a prosecutor and public defender.
  • Judge Gabrielle N. Sanders-Morency was the first black judge elected to the county bench in Osceola County, Florida.

Visit our Facebook page at and search for #BlackHistoryMonth to see the full posts about their impact in our courts.