Meet Justice Kyra Harris Bolden – Michigan’s Youngest and First Black Female Supreme Court Justice

by Joseph Omoniyi
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On January 1, 2023, Justice Kyra Harris Bolden made history as she became Michigan’s youngest and first black female Supreme Court Justice after she was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Justice Bolden’s roots are deeply embedded in Michigan. A proud product of Southfield Public Schools, she chose to continue her academic pursuits within the state, earning her bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University. She then pursued her Juris Doctor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. Her decision to remain in Michigan for her education reflects her profound connection to the community she now serves.

Before her groundbreaking appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Bolden made significant contributions as a state representative in the Michigan House of Representatives. During her tenure, she was a vocal advocate for criminal justice reform and worked tirelessly to protect survivors of sexual violence. Her legislative accomplishments include the successful passage of several bipartisan laws, such as the “Medically Frail” Prison Reform package, revisions to the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act, and the “Address Confidentiality for Survivors of Domestic Violence” package. These efforts highlight her commitment to enacting meaningful change through collaborative, bipartisan efforts.

Justice Bolden’s legal career is marked by a diverse range of experiences that have shaped her deep respect for the law. After being admitted to the State Bar, she practiced as a criminal defense attorney, gaining firsthand experience in the intricacies of the justice system. She then served as a Judicial Law Clerk in Wayne County’s Third Circuit Court under the Honorable John A. Murphy, where she conducted legal research, provided recommendations on legal interpretation, and drafted opinions on various civil issues. Her subsequent role as a civil litigation attorney with Lewis & Munday, P.C., further broadened her legal expertise across multiple practice areas.

Beyond her professional accomplishments, Justice Bolden is an active and dedicated member of her community. She holds memberships in several prestigious organizations, including the Oakland County Bar Association, Wolverine Bar Association, Straker Bar Association, the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, the National Congress of Black Women-Oakland County, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Her involvement in these organizations underscores her commitment to advocacy, mentorship, and community service.

Justice Bolden’s exceptional contributions have been recognized through numerous awards. She received the 2019 Detroit Association of Women’s Clubs, Inc. “Young Women Lifting As We Climb Image Award,” the 2019 African American Leadership Awards “Emerging Leader Award,” a 2020 Michigan Chronicle “40 Under 40 Award,” the 2021 “Legislative Economic Development Champion Award,” and the 2021 Michigan Credit Union League “Legislator of the Year Award.” These accolades reflect her impact and dedication to her community and profession.

Justice Kyra Harris Bolden’s historic appointment to the Michigan Supreme Court is not just a personal achievement but a beacon of inspiration for many. Her journey underscores the importance of representation and diversity in the judiciary, providing a powerful example for future generations. As she continues her work on the Michigan Supreme Court, her dedication to justice, equality, and community service promises to shape a more inclusive and equitable legal landscape.

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