University of Florida Law Student Appointed First Black Woman Chief Justice

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University of Florida

by Stacy Jackson

The 25-year-old, along with four associate judges, will oversee hearings, appeals and disputes and ensure fairness.

Britney Deas has secured her place in history as the first Black woman to serve as Chief Justice of the University of Florida (UF) Supreme Court.

The 25-year-old Floridian and Haitian law student moved to the position at the start of Black History Month this year after serving as an associate justice in 2023, The Alligator reported. The new chief justice, along with four associate justices, has taken the helm for overseeing hearings, appeals and disputes and ensuring fairness.

Deas plans to hold panels and invite distinguished lawyers to the university to engage law students.

The University of South Florida (USF) graduate said of her groundbreaking appointment, “Breaking down barriers for Black women and women in general has always been of great importance to me.”

Her passion for empowering women of color in leadership positions is evident in Deas' previous roles. At USF, she became the first black student body president. Additionally, at that point, the university had not elected a female student body leader in 20 years.

Deas said of her previous roles, “When I saw someone who looked like me do something, I realized I could do it too.” Her goal is to provide that inspiration for others who come after her . According to The Alligator, she added: “You can see the chain reaction [representation] stated,” when she commented that the next two USF leaders after her were also women.

Joanna Auchettl, the new chief justice's adviser, told the outlet that Deas always pursued her ambitions, from homemade T-shirts to centerfield ballpark honors. Auchettl said she “tried to encourage and support everyone.” [Deas’] efforts. It's exciting to learn about it [Deas’] achievements.”

Deas shared with The Alligator that she is inspired by the women in her family. “I have always been inspired by women who fight against oppression and women who stand up for people who cannot stand up for themselves.”

She pays it forward and believes strongly in the power of representation. “I saw it in my house with my grandmother, my great-grandmother and my mother,” the new chief justice told The Alligator.

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