Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Honorable Lorna E. Lockwood - A Trailblazing Western Woman -- Arizona Trivia

Lorna Elizabeth Lockwood was born on March 24, 1903 in Douglas, Arizona -- which at the time was a Territory, not a State (as explained last week, Arizona was admitted to the Union on February 14, 1912).

Her family moved to Tombstone, Arizona in 1913 (yes, that Tombstone - adopted home of the Earp brothers, site of the infamous gunfight at the OK Corral, subject of several movies), and she graduated from high school there in 1920.

She was an amazing woman. As you read this brief summary of her life, remember that during most of her formative years, women did not even have the right to vote in most of this country. Did she let that stop her from dreaming big? No, she did not!

According to the Women's Legal History Biography Project at Stanford University, Lorna E. Lockwood chalked up a number of "firsts" during her long career as an Arizona attorney and judge.

Ms. Lockwood was the first woman to receive a Juris Doctor (law) degree from the University of Arizona College of Law, in 1925. According to the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame, she was the only woman in her class of 13, and was elected president of the Student Bar Association.

She was the first woman in Arizona appointed as an Assistant Attorney General, in 1948.

She was the first woman to sit on the bench of the Arizona Superior Court, appointed in 1951.

And, most amazingly, she was the first woman to become Chief Justice of any State Supreme Court in the U.S., in 1965. (However, according to Wikipedia, we must give credit to Ohio for being the first to elect a woman to serve as Associate Justice on its Supreme Court - a position held by the Honorable Florence Ellinwood Allen from 1922 until her appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in 1934.)

The Honorable Lorna Lockwood served on the Arizona Supreme Court from 1961 to 1975, and was Chief Justice twice, from 1965-66 and from 1970-71. (Interestingly, Lorna's father, the Honorable Alfred C. Lockwood, served on the Arizona Supreme Court from 1925 to 1943; she used the same office and desk he had used.)

In the 1960's, the Honorable Lorna Lockwood was a candidate and was almost nominated to be the first female justice on the United States Supreme Court. However, President Johnson appointed Thurgood Marshall, the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice, instead.

Sadly, the Honorable Lorna Lockwood died in 1977 at the age of 74 due to complications of pneumonia (an awful disease, as I know from personal experience).

* * * * *

As a law student, I can remember reading Arizona cases authored by Ms. Lockwood and being impressed that Arizona was progressive enough to have a woman supreme court justice sooner than many other states. Our State may come across as reactionary and ultra-conservative on a lot of issues (see generally Arizona politics), but women's participation in public life isn't one of them (see Wikipedia's biography of the Honorable Sandra Day O'Connor, another famous jurist from Arizona).


Janie Junebug said...

Way to go, Judge Lockwood! Thanks for the interesting information, LegalEagle.


SkylersDad said...

She sounds like an amazing women!