Judge Shelia R. Johnson was elected in November 2002 and is the first African American to serve as Judge in the 46th District Court and the first African American female District Judge in Oakland County. The Court serves the communities of Southfield, Lathrup Village, Bingham Farms, Beverly Hills, Franklin and Southfield Township. In November 2014, she was re-elected for an unopposed third term and she currently serves as Chief Judge of the Court. Judge Johnson was also selected as a 2012 Democratic Party nominee for candidacy for Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. Prior to assuming the bench, Judge Johnson was an attorney with over 18 years of legal experience in both State and Federal Courts. Judge Johnson was in private practice in Southfield where she specialized in both civil and criminal litigation.
Among her community and civic affiliations are: the Southern Oakland Chapter of the NAACP, where she served as an Executive Committee member and chair of the Health Committee; founding member of the former Southfield Community Foundation Women’s Fund, which was an endowment of the non-profit Community Foundation that was dedicated to supporting women in need of assistance in Southfield and Lathrup Village and which sought to advance equity and to ensure social justice for women and children in the community; First Vice-President, program chair and committee chair, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force, Inc., which commemorates the MLK Holiday in Southfield and works to establish community events to promote Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence and positive social change; mistress of ceremonies for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Walk and Program in Southfield; charter member and former Board member of the Oakland County Chapter of the National Congress of Black Women, a non-profit organization which encourages the empowerment of African American women and their families through education, political, economic and cultural development. Judge Johnson is also a member of Hope United Methodist Church, where she served as Chairperson, from 2006-2008 and Vice Chair from 2004-2006, of the Church and Society Ministry, which apprises the congregation of political and social issues which affect the church and community. She has also worked with the Communications Ministry, serving as host of the local cable television program, “What’s Happening At Hope United Methodist Church.” Judge Johnson is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Southfield Alumnae Chapter, where she serves as chair of the Social Action Committee.
Judge Johnson is the recipient of numerous professional and community service awards, including the 2018 “Community Service Award” from the Detroit Urban League, the 2014 “Pioneer African American Leader Award” from the Michigan Democratic Party, the 2014 “Justice Award” from the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force, Inc.; 2013 “Women of Excellence” Award from the Michigan Chronicle Newspaper; 2013 “Trailblazer Award” from the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association; 2013 “Wings of Justice Award” from the Oakland County Democratic Party; 2005 Phenomenal Woman “Torch Award” for outstanding legal leadership and community service by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Southfield Alumnae Chapter; 2006 “Member of the Year Award” from the Southern Oakland County NAACP for her work as chair of the “Health Committee”; 2008 “Powerful Woman of Purpose Award” in the Legal Profession from the Rhonda Walker Foundation; and the 2009 “Mattie Belle Davis Award” from the National Association of Women Judges. She has also been recognized in Who’s Who Publishing Company’s volume of “Black Judges in America.”
Judge Johnson is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, Michigan District Judges Association, Oakland County District Judges Association, Association of Black Judges of Michigan, D. Augustus Straker Bar Association, Wolverine Bar Association, Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, Black Women Lawyers Association of Michigan and the National Bar Association. She is the immediate Past President of the statewide Michigan District Judges Association (MDJA) and is the former editor of the MDJA newsletter, “Benchmarks.” She currently serves as Recording Secretary of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association and she is a member of the Judicial Council of the State Bar of Michigan. Judge Johnson has also served as a member of the Equal Access Initiative of the Committee on Justice Initiatives of the State Bar of Michigan. Judge Johnson is also a former President of the Association of Black Judges of Michigan and former Vice President of Publications and Board Member of the National Association of Women Judges, where she was editor of the national newsletter “Counterbalance.”
Judge Johnson served as a law clerk to the Honorable Benjamin F. Gibson, United States District Court, Western District of Michigan. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan Law School, where she was the first African American elected President of the Law School Senate and delivered the commencement address to her graduating class. She has been a resident of Southfield for 32 years.
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