Monday, November 5, 2018
4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Implicit Bias and the Courts
University of Houston Law Center
Bates Law Building - Room109
1 Hour CLE
Reception to follow in the Albertus Room
Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore is a judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. In 1994 when she was sworn in, she was the youngest sitting federal judge in the nation and the first University of Houston Law Center alum to serve on the federal bench. She was born in St. Albans, New York and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland. She was the youngest member of her freshman class at her alma mater, Hampton University in Virginia. Gilmore decided to undertake a career in law after she represented herself and won a minor civil lawsuit. She graduated from the UH Law Center in 1981.
In 1982, Gilmore began a 13-year tenure at Houston law firm Vickery, Kilbride, Gilmore and Vickery where she specialized in civil litigation. Gilmore also became an active member of the Houston civic community, serving on the boards of a number of civic and charitable organizations including a term as president of the YWCA of Houston. She also became involved in the Texas political arena while serving as counsel and teacher in the area of election law.
Her civic activities outside of the courtroom brought her to the attention of Governor Ann Richards who in 1991 appointed Gilmore to the Texas Department of Commerce Policy Board, where she also served as chairperson from 1992 to 1994. Her appointment to that board made Judge Gilmore the first African-American to serve on this board responsible for increasing business, promoting tourism, and developing job training in Texas. In 1993, she also served as chairperson of Texans for NAFTA. In this capacity, she worked regularly with diplomatic leaders, including the President of Mexico, to increase U.S. trade opportunities. Judge Gilmore was nominated to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton in 1994.
Judge Gilmore is the co-author of "A Boy Named Rocky", a book for children of incarcerated parents, and is a frequent speaker on issues related to these children and their families. She has worked on initiatives to help these families with access to resources for their children, including the development of a legal clinic at Texas Southern University. Gilmore is the author of three other books including "Saving the Dream" a fiction novel that Gilmore hopes will encourage other families and single people to pursue their own dreams of parenting through adoption. She is the recipient of numerous civic awards for community service. She spent seventeen years on the board of trustees of Hampton University, has recently completed a term on the board of trustees of the River Oaks Baptist School, and currently serves on the board of First Tee of Greater Houston.
The Justice Ruby Kless Sondock Lectureship in Legal Ethics Jurist-In-Residence program, starting its third year, brings sitting jurists to campus for a day of interaction with students, faculty and the Houston legal community. Each jurist provides a lecture on a legal ethics issue important to the community.
"Through the Sondock Jurist In Residence Program, the Law Center brings outstanding jurists to the campus who will give lectures and meet with UHLC faculty, alumni and students," said Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes. "These interactions will bring the Law Center community closer to the bench so we can learn from each other. It also will help inspire our students to be the next generation of outstanding jurists. We are very proud to host the Jurist in Residence Program so aptly named after Justice Ruby Kless Sondock who is a role model and trailblazer." "Justice Ruby Sondock is truly a living legend," said Professor Meredith Duncan who coordinates the program. "It is a privilege for UHLC to host prominent jurists from around the country in her honor. We are thrilled for the opportunities this program provides for our students, faculty and the Houston legal community."
The Jurist In Residence program is named in honor of Sondock, a pioneer in the law who graduated as valedictorian and one of only five women in the UH law school class of 1962. After practicing law for many years, Sondock was appointed to the 234th District Court in 1977, making her the first female state district judge in Harris County. She was appointed to the Texas Supreme Court in 1982, making her the first woman to serve in a regular session of the court. Earlier this year, she was proclaimed a "Texas Legal Legend" by the litigation section of the State Bar of Texas.