Justice James E.C. Perry

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A native of New Berth, North Carolina, Justice James E.C. Perry was appointed as the 85th Justice to the Florida Supreme Court by Governor Charlie Crist in 2009. Before his appointment, he served as the first African American Circuit judge of Florida’s 18th Judicial Circuit. For this role, Governor Jeb Bush appointed him in March 2000. He also served as the first African American Chief Judge of the 18th Circuit, by unanimous vote, overseeing a 49-judge circuit for a two-year term beginning July 2003.

After becoming a lawyer and moving to Florida, he spent 21 years in private practice and built the largest African-American-owned law firm in Central Florida practicing business law and serving as general counsel for clients like the Greater Orlando Airport Authority and the Florida Chapter Branches of the NAACP.

A dedicated father, Justice Perry managed his son’s AAU basketball team, the SanLando Greyhounds, and traveled the country supporting his sons’ many athletic endeavors. He was also the founder and president of the Jackie Robinson Sports Association, a baseball league serving at-risk youth. Justice Perry is a former member and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Saint Augustine’s University, was a member of Carter Tabernacle CME Church for more than 30 years, and is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

After his high school graduation, he was recruited to play football for St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina. Upon graduating from college with a degree in business administration and accounting in 1966, he volunteered for the Vietnam War draft and attended officer training school, where he rose to the rank of first lieutenant in the US Army in two years. Afterward, he attended the prestigious Columbia Law School in New York City and earned his Juris Doctorate degree in 1972. Justice Perry met his future bride, Adrienne M. Perry, Ph.D., while at Columbia Law School. They have three children: Jaimon, Kamilah, and Willis Perry.

After graduating from Columbia Law School, Justice Perry moved his family to Augusta, Georgia, and prepared to take the Georgia bar exam. He sat for the Georgia bar exam in 1972 with 50 other African American students. Photographs had to be submitted with all exams. Justice Perry was shocked to learn that he and all other African American students who took the bar had failed. Conversely, 850 White students passed the bar that year. Justice Perry decided to sue the Georgia Board of Bar examiners for racial discrimination, bringing attention to the blatant systematic discrimination. After Justice Perry’s lawsuit was filed, Georgia more than doubled the number of African American attorneys in the state in one year.

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