Advance Notice: Briefs

Davis makes history, becomes Michigan’s first Black female U.S. Appeals Court judge

By: - May 25, 2022 6:01 am

Stephanie Dawkins Davis | State Bar of Michigan awards screenshot

Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis of Michigan was confirmed on Tuesday to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit with a bipartisan U.S. Senate vote.

She is the first African American woman from Michigan, and the second African American woman in history, to serve on the Sixth Circuit. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has appellate jurisdiction over the federal district courts in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. The Senate voted 49-43 on the Davis nomination. 

President Joe Biden nominated Davis to the appeals post in February. Davis currently serves as the U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan and has been based in Flint. The Wichita State University and Washington University School of Law graduate was appointed to the district court by former President Donald Trump. 

Both of Michigan’s U.S.senators backed Davis’ nomination.  

“Judge Davis will be an outstanding judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Her time at the Eastern District of Michigan has demonstrated her excellent work as a thoughtful and fair judge. Judge Davis has spent her entire career serving the people of Michigan. I know she will continue this work on the Sixth Circuit,” said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing).

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) described Davis as having “exemplary legal mind” and being a “qualified jurist.”

“I’m confident her commitment to upholding the rule of law will continue to serve our state and nation well in our federal judicial system,” said Peters.

Davis has served as a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan since December 2019. She previously served as a magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan from 2016 to 2019. She also served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan as executive assistant United States attorney from 2010 to 2015.

Davis began her career as an associate at Dickinson Wright PLLC in Detroit from 1992 to 1997.

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.