Judge Debra Nance


Judge Debra Nance was elected to the bench on November 6, 2012. She was re-elected, by a landslide, to her second term on November 6, 2018.  In 2021, Judge Nance was proud and honored to receive the distinguished Women Lawyer’s Association of Michigan, Oakland County Division, Joan Young Award of Judicial Excellence! Judge Debra Nance is up for reelection in 2024 and looks forward to a term of continuing service.

Judge Nance received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Detroit. She began her career as an Assistant Store Human Resource Director at the Hudson’s Northland Store before serving as Store Human Resource Superintendent for several other Hudson’s Stores throughout Michigan. She also worked in other various Human Resource Management capacities in the automotive industry prior to launching her legal career.

Judge Nance began her career as an attorney after obtaining a law degree from Wayne State University Law School. She gained invaluable experience while working in the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Domestic Violence Unit and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Child & Family Abuse Bureau. After graduating, she worked on assignment to the Office of the General Counsel at Ford Motor Company. In 2001, she went into private practice at a mid-sized law firm where she developed a successful litigation practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Probate Litigation, Juvenile & Family Litigation and Adoption Law.

In service to the community, Judge Nance volunteered in numerous projects prior to taking the bench. She volunteered at free legal aid clinics. She worked to educate our youth by participating in the 50th Anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Project in Southfield Public Schools. She has supported organizations such as the Women's Survival Center of Oakland County and Alternatives for Girls coming out of foster care. She worked as an “Election Protection Attorney” in several elections to ensure the fairness and integrity of the election process. Judge Nance also worked as a Volunteer Attorney Mediator for small claims, consumer and commercial disputes, and landlord/tenant matters in District Court. Prior to taking the bench, Judge Nance served on the Michigan State Bar Character & Fitness Committee which reviews the suitability of law graduates seeking to obtain a license to practice in Michigan.

Since taking the bench, Judge Nance developed and presented Careers in the Courtroom to encourage elementary and high school students to pursue careers as defense attorneys, prosecutors, civil attorneys and judges. The program also introduces students to the importance of jury service. In addition, for adults, Judge Nance has designed and presented How to Prepare for Your Day in Court and Tips for Landlords and Tenants which she shares with neighborhood/condo associations, church groups and veteran’s groups. Judge Nance visits churches, synagogues, schools, neighborhood/condo associations, scholarship programs, graduations, etc. In community forums and townhalls, she has spoken on topics such as Breaking the Cycle of Incarceration and Breaking the Silence on Domestic Violence. Judge Nance conceived and presented the City of Southfield’s first Opioid Crisis Townhall in cooperation with fire, police, and other elected officials. In addition, Judge Nance was instrumental in developing From Expungement to Entrepreneurship: The Pipeline to Possibilities to help ‘returning citizens’ start small community-based businesses. Judge Nance has been featured, proudly, as Alumni of the Month by the Wayne State University Law School. In 2018 Judge Nance was invited to Host a weekly radio show, Your Best Chance with Judge Nance, designed to provide the listener with access to justice by increasing the public’s understanding of the criminal justice system, the court process and the people who serve there. As a community service, the show broadcast throughout the State of Michigan and across the country as a podcast, each week from 2018 to 2023.

Currently Judge Nance is a member of the Michigan State Bar Association, the Michigan District Judges Association (MDJA), the Oakland County District Judges Association (OCDJA), the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ), the National Bar Association Judicial Council (NBAJC), the Association of Black Judges of Michigan (ABJM), the Wolverine Bar Association (WBA), the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association (DASBA), the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM) and the Black Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (BWLAM).

In service to the legal community, Judge Nance has lectured to lawyers at the Institute of Continuing Legal Education, and new lawyers at the Oakland County Bar Association. She has also lectured to students at Cooley Law and the University of Michigan Law School. She served as a Board Member for the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association, served on the Oakland County Bar Association Judicial Candidates Committee, and was a long-serving member of the Adoption subcommittee of the Family Law Division of the Michigan State Bar Association. Judge Nance was elected by her peers to serve as President of the Association of Black Judges of Michigan for 2016-2017. In 2020 Judge Nance was appointed to serve as the first Chair-Elect of the newly formed (Wayne/BLAC) law alumni council of Wayne State University Law School. In 2021, Judge Nance was elected to serve as a member of the Executive Board of the National Bar Association Judicial Council NBAJC), and was appointed Co-Chair of National Association of Women Judges Programs & Education Committee. In addition, in 2021 she volunteered to serve as the Judicial Chair of the Oakland County Bar Association (OCBA) Bench/Bar Conference. She continued to service as an OCBA Bench/Bar presenter in 2024.  Judge Nance has lived in Southfield for over 30 years. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, and a parish member at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church in Beverly Hills and Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Detroit.

Main Number: (248) 796-5820