David Sutherland Nelson

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David Sutherland Nelson (December 2, 1933 – October 21, 1998) was a United States federal judge.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Nelson received a B.S. from Boston College in 1957 and a J.D. from Boston College Law School in 1960. He was in private practice in Boston, Massachusetts from 1960 to 1973. He was an Assistant professor, Boston University School of Public Communications from 1966 to 1973. He was a U.S. Commissioner, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts from 1968 to 1969. He was an instructor at Harvard Law School from 1969 to 1980, and an instructor in trial advocacy at the Boston University School of Law from 1973 to 1992. He serving as an assistant commonwealth attorney general, specifically as Chief of Consumer Protection Division, Massachusetts from 1971 to 1973, and as a Justice of the Superior Court of Massachusetts from 1973 to 1979.

On January 25, 1979, President Jimmy Carter nominated Nelson to a new seat on the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts created by 92 Stat. 1629. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 21, 1979, and received his commission on March 23, 1979. He was the first African American to be appointed a federal judge in Massachusetts.[1][2] He assumed senior status on September 27, 1991, serving in that capacity until his death, in Framingham, Massachusetts.


  1. ^ Vrabel, Jim (2004). When in Boston: A Time Line & Almanac. Northeastern University Press. p. 353. ISBN 9781555536213. 
  2. ^ The Nelson Fellowship Program.


Legal offices
Preceded by
new seat
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Reginald C. Lindsay