Louisiana Record

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Southern University graduate becomes youngest African-American judge in Alabama

By S. Laney Griffo | Feb 12, 2017

Westry-Robinson took her oath at the age of 27-years-old. | Shutterstock

BATON ROUGE — A Southern University graduate has become the youngest African-American female judge in Alabama.

Briana Westry-Robinson is the newest district judge in Wilcox County, according to a report by KSLA. At the age of 27 in March 2016, she defeated Felecia Pettway in the Democratic primary by claiming 56 percent of the vote, according to results posted on Ballotpedia.org. She ran unopposed in the November general election.

“Actually achieving my dream of being a judge is wonderful,” Westry-Robinson told the Louisiana Record.

Westry-Robinson turned 28 two days after she was sworn in and took the bench on Jan. 26. She will serve a six-year term, according to KSLA.

Westry-Robinson decided she wanted to be a judge in the second grade, when a judge visited her school on career day.

Westry-Robinson was born in Germany and raised in Camden, Alabama, according to a report by WSFA. She got her undergraduate in Healthcare Management from University of Alabama. Westry-Robinson said she had a moment of doubt about being able to achieve her dream and wanted to make sure she would be able to get a job with her degree after school.

She then went to Southern University for her law degree, which she said was “the best decision I could’ve made.”

Westry-Robinson moved through school quickly. She took a year off before attending Southern University but still started law school at only 21 years old.

“I’ve always done things on the fast track,” Westry-Robinson said.

After school, she owned her own private practice, The Law Offices of Briana Westry-Robinson. She then became the assistant district attorney for the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.

Westry-Robinson knows the importance of both her age and her race.

“It’s unheard of to be a judge so young, especially since you have to practice law for three years before becoming a judge,” Westry-Robinson said.

In Alabama, someone can serve as district judge at the age of 18 but had to have a licensed for three years and have had lived in that district for one year, according to AlabamaVotes.gov.

She also hopes to inspire people because she is a young, African-American female.

“No matter how much people feel we are regressing, I hope they see me and know that we are progressing,” Westry-Robinson said.

Southern University Law Center Chancellor John Pierre told the Louisiana Record Westry-Robinson is proof that the school is a leading lawyer-producing school.

“We strive for high achievement,” Pierre said. “We empower young people with skills they can use to not only better their own lives but to better other people’s lives.”

Pierre also sees the importance of a young African-American making such a great achievement and believes people will place “the same confidence is her as people placed in Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery.”

“She proved to the people she was a capable leader at a young age,” Pierre said.

Pierre is proud of how Westry-Robinson’s achievement reflects on herself and the school.

“She is an example of the quality of student that comes from historically black colleges,” Pierre said.

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Southern University Law Center