NEW ORLEANS, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Earnestine Gray, retired Louisiana juvenile court judge was recently named chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Judicial Division.

The Division’s members include judges, lawyers, tribal members, court administrators, academics, and students interested in the courts and the justice system.

Gray has announced that her theme for the upcoming year is, “For Our Children: A Justice System that Protects, Corrects, and Prepares.”

The goal is to bring attention to the impact of courts on the lives of children and families while maintaining the Division’s focus on the rule of law, diversity in the profession and the security of judges.

After serving 36 years on the juvenile court bench, Gray became the first Louisiana recipient to earn the prestigious ABA Mark Hardin Award for Child Welfare Legal Scholarship and Systems Change earlier this year.

In giving the award, Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Piper D. Griffin expressed, “…retired Judge Ernestine S. Gray has devoted her judicial career to serving children, youth and families. Through her intellectual courage, Judge Gray has pushed all members of our children’s law community to think deeper and harder about the legal work we do in Louisiana and the citizens we serve.”

In 2020, Gray was honored with the Charles R. English Award for a lifetime of service from the ABA Criminal Justice Section. A past president of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, National Court Appointed Special Advocates, and the local YMCA, YWCA, and Volunteers of America, Gray developed innovative programs and is a recognized leader in the legal community.

Gray received her bachelor’s degree from Spelman College in 1970 and her Juris Doctor degree from the Louisiana State University School of Law in 1976. She was employed by the Baton Rouge Legal Aid Society, the Attorney General of the State of Louisiana, and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as a trial attorney.

In 1984, Gray was elected to the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court bench to fill an unexpired term. She was reelected five times before retiring in 2020.

She and her husband, James Austin Gray II, also an attorney, are parents of two children, former State Sen. Cheryl Gray Evans, an attorney; and James Austin Gray III, a chemical engineer and attorney.

The Grays are grandparents to four grandchildren.