Vanessa Diane Gilmore (born October 1956) is a judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. She was appointed to this position by President Clinton in 1994. At that time, she was the youngest sitting federal judge in the United States. She was also the first graduate of the University of Houston to be appointed to the federal bench.
Born in St. Albans, New York. Gilmore earned a bachelor's degree from Hampton University in 1977, and received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center in 1981. In 1982, Gilmore began a 13-year tenure at a Houston law firm where she specialized in civil litigation. Gilmore also became an active member of the Houston civic community, serving on the boards of a number of civic and charitable organizations. She also became involved in the Texas political arena while serving as counsel and teacher in the area of election law, working as an adjunct professor for the University of Houston College of Law in 1984.
Her civic activities outside of the courtroom brought her to the attention of Governor Ann Richards who in 1991 appointed Gilmore to the Texas Department of Commerce Policy Board, where she also served as chairperson from 1992 to 1994. Her appointment to that board made Judge Gilmore the first African-American to serve on this board responsible for increasing business and tourism and job training development in Texas. In 1993, she also served as chairperson of Texans for NAFTA. In this capacity, she worked regularly with diplomatic leaders, including the President of Mexico, to increase U.S. trade opportunities
On March 22, 1994, Gilmore was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a new seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas created by 104 Stat. 5089. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 8, 1994, and received her commission the following day. In 2005 she presided over the Enron Broadband trial, in which she declared a mistrial after jurors were unable to reach a consensus. She has written significant opinions on patients' rights, copyright, patent law, and the first amendment.
Motivated in part by her own experiences and those of other women and families who struggle with work/life integration, she decided to write about adoption. Her fiction novel, "Saving the Dream" tells the story of a young woman and her decision to have her baby or give it up for adoption and alternately explores the life her son might have lived in each world.
Her latest book, "Lynn's Angels - The True Story of E. Lynn Harris and the Women Who Loved Him" tells the story of the life of the late author E. Lynn Harris and the five women who comprised the family that he invented for himself that he called "Lynn's Angels" . It explores the universal concept of voluntary kinship with the goal of helping others appreciate the significance of their own invented families. She is also the author of a children's book entitled "A Boy Named Rocky: A Coloring Book for the Children of Incarcerated Parents" and is a frequent speaker and lecturer on issues related to these children and their families. She has assisted with and instituted initiatives to help these families with access to resources for their children, including the development of a legal clinic at Texas Southern University. Her book, “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Tales From a Judicial Diva”, is an autobiographical look at her life on and off the bench.
She is the recipient of numerous civic awards for community service and serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for Hampton University and on the advisory board of Inprint, a literary arts organization for readers and writers.
- Ebony magazine, March 1997
- Vanessa Gilmore at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Vanessa Gilmore.|
- US District Court Page
- Brief in Houston Chronicle
- Procedures of Gilmore's court (PDF)
- Houston Law Center article