Dean Leonard M. Baynes
cordially invites you and a guest to an event honoring
Judge Eleanor Ross
United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
Monday, October 23, 2017 | 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Sense and Sensibility: Civility in the Courtroom
University of Houston Law Center
Room 109 BLB
1 Hour CLE (pending)
Reception to follow in the Albertus Room
Complimentary Parking in Lot 19B
Click here to register by Oct. 19th
Judge Eleanor Louise Ross was born in our nation's capital, Washington, D.C., and grew up in Prince George's County, Maryland. She graduated from American University before attending law school at the University of Houston. Judge Ross began her legal career as a prosecutor in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1997, she relocated to Georgia, where she worked for the DeKalb County Solicitor's Office and the Fulton County District Attorney's Office. She also served as a federal prosecutor in Atlanta.
Judge Ross has prosecuted several high profile cases, including the child-abuse murder of six-year-old Terrell Peterson, whose death prompted several changes in the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services. In 2008, she helped convict Chiman Rai, an Indian-American college professor, for hiring a hit man to kill his daughter-in-law because she was African American. In 2010, she tried the case of Devonni Benton, who was convicted of murdering Spelman College sophomore Jasmine Lynn. Additionally, during her tenure at the District Attorney's Office, she secured convictions against eight members of the International Robbing Crew, a violent gang charged with committing ten murders in the Atlanta area. In a separate trial, she successfully prosecuted ten members of the "Nine Tre" Bloods street gang, obtaining murder convictions against each defendant she tried.
As a prosecutor, Judge Ross was honored for her contributions to victims' rights and recognized by the Fulton County District Attorney in 2000 as Homicide Attorney of the Year and, in 2010, as Attorney of the Year. She was also listed as one of Georgia's Most Powerful and Influential Attorneys in 2011 by Women Looking Ahead News Magazine.
In April of 2011, Judge Ross was appointed by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to serve on the State Court of DeKalb County. She was sworn in at the State Capitol on April 29 and took the bench on May 2. Judge Ross served on that Court for 3 years. Each year she sponsored an "Art Challenge Contest open to all DeKalb County Public Schools middle and high school students.
On Thursday, December 19, 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Judge Ross to serve on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, a court on which no African American woman had ever served. She appeared before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing on May 13, 2014 and on November 18, the United States Senate confirmed her by voice vote. She received her judicial commission on November 20, 2014.
The Judge 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.