First Black Female Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Karen Fort Hood Dies

Karen Fort Hood, 68, a pioneer in the legal realm, elected as the first Black woman judge at the Michigan’s Court of Appeals died on Sunday, WDIV reported.

Hood’s death was confirmed in a news release announcement through Chief Judge Christopher Murray.

Further information surrounding Hood’s death was not available as of press time, per the article.

“Since being elected to the court in 2002, Judge Hood’s engaging presence was known to all in the court,” Murray said in the article. “Her grace, dignity and wonderful smile and laugh were cherished by all and will never be forgotten.”

Hood’s term on the court was going to expire January 1, 2027.

“I share my deepest condolences with the loved ones of Judge Karen Fort Hood after learning of her death. Judge Hood treated each of the parties and litigants who came before her with respect and dignity, and I will always remember her kindness and compassion from my own experiences appearing before her countless times,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in an emailed statement. “From becoming the first Black woman elected to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 2002, to just earlier this year becoming the first Black woman to chair the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, Judge Hood spent her career shattering racial barriers. Her impact, and this loss, is felt well beyond the bench.”

Before she was elected to the Appeals court, Hood was a Wayne County Circuit Court judge between 1992 and 2002, and she served as the Judicial Tenure Commission chair, which holds ethics violation complaint investigations ethics violation complaints involving Michigan judges, according to the article.

The Detroit native received her undergraduate degree from Regents College of the University of the State of New York at Albany and her law degree in 1989 from the Detroit College of Law, the article added.

“Judge Karen Fort Hood was known for being first — the first Black woman elected to the Court of Appeals and also to chair the Judicial Tenure Commission,” state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack said in the article. “But what was first in her mind was being fair and impartial. She brought to the appellate bench the knowledge and experience of a prosecutor and criminal court judge but gave us so much more — a profound understanding of what ‘justice for all’ means and how to achieve it as both a judge and a community leader.”

Read the full story here.

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