In 1919, Jean H. Norris became the first female judge in New York City history. But her name isn’t celebrated today, because in 1931 she was disbarred and removed from the bench.
Upon first rising to the position, Norris’s promotion was trumpeted:
The first few rows of the courtroom were filled with women. A few of them had opened the morning session with congraulatory speeches, a thing as unheard of in the annals of the court as was the occasion which prompted it. A group of fashionable women sat beaming at the proceedings in the last few rows. Their attitude manifested complete satisfaction with the woman who represented them in this high capacity.
By 12 years later, quite the opposite reaction would have occurred. Judge Norris was found to have falsified court records, convicted a girl without evidence, and endorsed a product in violation of judicial ethics.
First Woman Magistrate Judges Fallen Sisters: Quality of Mercy Is Not Strained in Jefferson Market Court at Mrs. Norris’s First Session, but Eloquence of Mere Men Is Curtailed
Published: Sunday, November 9, 1919