top of page

Our History & Mission


Our History

The rapid increase in the number of black judges in the United States prompted the National Bar Association’s National President, Edward F. Bell, to suggest coordination of a separate judicial body within the parent organization. With the cooperation of the National Bar Foundation and financial assistance from the Ford Foundation, and in response to the considerable interest expressed by the National Bar Association judges in cities around the country, a panel of judges was convened in Miami, Florida early in January 1971 to discuss organizing plans. As a result, a Planning Committee was chosen to begin formal organization of the new Council.


The committee subsequently proposed a resolution for organization of the Judicial Council, which was adopted by the Executive Board of the National Bar Association on January 9, 1971.

The resolution states that the Judicial Council shall be an independent, autonomous, section of the National Bar Association with its own Officers, by-laws, program and treasury. Foremost among its objectives is the eradication of racial and class bias from every aspect of the judicial and law enforcement process.

Later that year, from August 3-6, 1971, Black judges from across the country assembled in Atlanta, Georgia for the founding convention. Judge George Crockett, Jr., was elected Chairperson and U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge William H. Hastie was the keynote speaker. Over forty chairs have lead the organization since.


Hon. George Crockett Jr., Inaugural Chair, NBA Judicial Council, 1971-72

The members of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association believe that our system of justice will only survive and keep the confidence and support of all segments of society, when those responsible for its trust continue to be the main catalysts for constructive change.

Therefore, the Judicial Council will continue to review itself in terms of past performance, and future potential. Our Bench will always be prepared to define its values and accept its responsibilities, to make meaningful progress toward making “Equal Justice Under Law” a reality for all.


— Excerpt from “Why We Organize” 1971

Hon. Joseph C. Howard, Sr. (1922 – 2000)
Senior Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, 1979-2000

[Photo – Maryland State Archives]

Our Mission

The Council shall exist for the education, the encouragement and the support of its members in their individual and collective efforts to achieve the following objectives:

  • the eradication of racial and class bias from every aspect of the judicial and the law enforcement process;

  • the improvement of the public’s confidence in courts and in the determination of the judiciary to listen, to understand and to fashion effective remedies for the legitimate grievances of the deprived, the depressed and the dehumanized in our society;

  • to develop. analyze, and improve the judicial, managerial and administrative systems for the purposes of eradicating the civil and criminal case backlogs and for the marked improvements of the entire criminal justice system–particularly as it relates to the interrelationships between police, courts and corrections;

  • to provide seminars, conferences, and forums for the exchange of judicial experiences for the training of new Council members and for the continuing education of veteran council members, and

  • to bring about a better balance in the Federal and State judiciaries of ethnic judges.

Full text set forth in Article 1 Section 2 By-Laws

bottom of page