Juanita Kidd Stout
|Juanita Kidd Stout|
Juanita Kidd Stout
|Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania|
Juanita Kidd Stout (March 7, 1919 – August 21, 1998), born in Wewoka, Oklahoma, was an attorney and judge, last serving as Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, from 1988–1989. She set up a practice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1954.
After working in the District Attorney's office, where Stout was known for her successful prosecutions, she was appointed on an interim basis to the municipal court bench in 1959, becoming the first African-American woman to serve as a judge in the state. Elected that year to the municipal court, she was the first African-American woman elected to any judgeship in the United States. When she was appointed to the state's supreme court, Stout was the first African-American woman to serve on the Supreme Court of any state.
She was born as Juanita Kidd in Wewoka, Oklahoma on March 7, 1919; her parents were Henry and Mary Kidd. They were both teachers, but were not paid well in the segregated state. She always "credited her mother with instilling a lifelong habit of hard work." As a child, Stout learned to read at age 3, entered the third grade at age 6, and started college at age 16.
She first attended Lincoln University, a historically black college in nearby Missouri, and later completed her bachelor's degree in music at the University of Iowa. She returned to Oklahoma to work as a music teacher. Stout was also a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, one founded by and for African-American women.
During World War II, she joined other young women and went to Washington, DC, to work. At a law firm she discovered skills in taking legal dictation and started to study law. She earned two law degrees at Indiana University, where her husband Charles Otis Stout was earning his doctorate.
In 1950 the couple moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she had been invited to work for William H. Hastie, who had been appointed to the Court of Appeals. She had worked for him in Washington, DC. A few years later Stout established her own law practice in 1954. She was appointed to the District Attorney's office, where she became renowned for her record of successful prosecutions and her meticulous preparation.
In 1959 Stout was appointed as a municipal court judge, the first African-American woman in the state to serve as a judge. That year she won election to the post and was the first African-American woman in the US to be elected to a judgeship. On November 15, 1959, Justice Stout appeared on the game show What's My Line? from that position.
She later was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas, where she specialized in homicide cases. In 1988 she was appointed to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the first African-American woman in the United States to serve on the Supreme Court of any state. That year her husband died. She served for one year before obligatory retirement at age 70. Stout died in Philadelphia in 1998.
Legacy and honors
- Stout was inducted into the Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame in 1983.
- In 2012, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania city courthouse was renamed as the Justice Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice in her honor.
- Obituary: J.K. Stout, Pioneering Judge in Pennsylvania, Is Dead at 79", New York Times, 24 August 1998; accessed 12 May 2017
- Ransom, Jan (May 31, 2012). "Council renames courthouse for Justice Juanita Kidd Stout". Philadelphia Daily News.
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