Alton Maddox, Jr
July 21, 1945 – April 23, 2023
Alton Maddox, Jr., the ‘People’s Lawyer’ and Attorney-at-War, dead at 77
Alton Maddox Jr., also known as the “Attorney at War” and the “People’s Lawyer,” passed away on April 23, 2023, at the age of 77. He was known for his take-no-prisoners legal practice and the controversial cases he litigated without compromise or concession. Maddox was a hot topic for news agencies for several decades. In 1987, he demanded that blacks boycott New York courts, stating that it made no sense to go into these racist courts and expect justice. Maddox was suspended from practicing law in 1990 after he refused to respond to a grievance committee hearing complaints about his conduct in the Tawana Brawley case. Maddox was staying in the Bronx for over a year before his death, which occurred in a nursing home on April 23, 2023. Mayor Eric Adams called Maddox a legal genius who used his legal knowledge as a shield and fought on behalf of marginalized people of color. Rev. Al Sharpton gave his condolences to Maddox’s son and grandchildren.
August 27, 1962 – August 20, 2023
Rest in Power: Carol Robles-Román, Long-Time ERA Advocate and Feminist Trailblazer
Carol Robles-Román, the former president and CEO of the ERA Coalition and a champion for gender equality, passed away after a battle with lung cancer. Her impactful legacy was honored by friends, family, and colleagues. She played a pivotal role in revitalizing the Equal Rights Amendment movement, emphasizing the leadership of women of color. Her career included significant public service as deputy mayor for legal affairs in New York and as an assistant attorney general. She also led Legal Momentum, focusing on legal rights for women and girls, and combating violence and human trafficking. Tributes from figures like Mike Bloomberg, Carol Jenkins, and Carolyn Maloney highlighted her dedication to public service, her strategic vision for the ERA Coalition, and her advocacy for social justice. Her life and work, tragically cut short due to a 9/11-related illness, left a profound impact on the fight for equality.
Charles Ogletree Jr.
December 31, 1952 – August 4, 2023
Charles Ogletree, longtime legal and civil rights scholar at Harvard Law, dies at 70
Charles J. Ogletree Jr., a prominent Harvard Law School professor and civil rights advocate, died at 70 due to Alzheimer’s disease. Before rising to prominence, the California native worked in farm fields and later taught figures such as Barack and Michelle Obama. He notably represented Anita Hill, Tupac Shakur, and Tulsa massacre survivors. Harvard Law’s Dean John F. Manning announced his death, lauding Ogletree’s dedication to justice and civil rights. Ogletree, who publicly revealed his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2016 and retired in 2020, was honored by having the Merced County courthouse named after him. He died surrounded by family in Maryland. Remembered for his humility and impact on legal education and civil rights, Ogletree is survived by his wife Pamela, their two children, and four grandchildren. His legacy continues to inspire those fighting for equality and justice.
July 29, 1941 – June 6, 2023
American Indian policy innovator passes away at age 81
Charles Wilkinson, a Stanford-educated legal scholar and advocate for American Indian rights, passed away at 81 on June 6, 2023. He co-founded the Native American Rights Fund, authored pivotal books on tribal law, and played a key role in advancing tribal sovereignty since the 1970s. Wilkinson’s efforts helped restore federal recognition for the Menominee Tribe and define sovereignty for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Honored as a Distinguished Professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder, his teaching and advocacy left an indelible mark on American Indian policy and inspired many, including his former student Gail Small.
Edward J. Littlejohn
1938 – June 7, 2023
Wayne Law celebrates the life of Professor Emeritus Edward J. Littlejohn
The Wayne Law community mourned the passing of Professor Emeritus Edward James Littlejohn, who died peacefully at home on June 7, 2023. A leading expert on African American legal history and a prominent figure in Detroit’s legal scene, Littlejohn contributed significantly to the Detroit Police Commission and co-authored an award-winning book. After serving as a sharpshooter in the Army, he excelled academically, joining the faculty of Detroit College of Law and later Wayne State University Law School, where he earned additional law degrees from Columbia Law School. Littlejohn established the Damon J. Keith Collection and funded an endowed chair at Wayne Law, leaving a lasting legacy.
Frank M. McClellan
Feb. 5, 1945 – Dec. 2, 2023
Frank M. McClellan, lawyer, law professor, and author, dies at 78
Frank M. McClellan, a distinguished lawyer, law professor, and author, passed away from cancer and heart disease on December 2, 2023, at the age of 78. Born in South Carolina, he moved to Pittsburgh during the great migration and later became a first-generation African American to attend desegregated schools. A Rutgers and Duquesne University School of Law graduate, he clerked for Judge William H. Hastie and taught at Duquesne and Temple University. McClellan, who also practiced law and wrote extensively on medical malpractice and healthcare ethics, received numerous accolades for his work. He is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, and extended family. Services were held at Mother Bethel AME Church.
1985 – October 3, 2023
ALC Mourns Hammad Alam
Hammad Alam, a dedicated staff attorney and program manager for the Asian Law Caucus’s National Security & Civil Rights program, passed away on October 3, 2023. Since 2020, he led campaigns to safeguard the rights of marginalized communities and was a vocal opponent of discriminatory policies like the Muslim & African Bans. Alam was known for his grassroots work, educating families about their rights and assisting them through challenging situations. A passionate advocate for racial justice and against Islamophobia, his prior roles included working with Advancing Justice Southern California and serving on the board of CAIR-LA. Alam’s legacy continues through the many lives he touched and the stronger movements he helped build. He is survived by his wife Haifa and daughter Inara and is deeply missed by his community.
May 28, 1951 – September 19, 2023
Temple University president JoAnne Epps laid to rest in a moving celebration of life
JoAnne A. Epps, the esteemed president of Temple University, passed away, leaving behind a legacy of brilliance, warmth, and integrity. Her journey with Temple began in her youth and spanned nearly 40 years, marked by her rise from a bookstore cashier to a law dean and eventually president. Epps, who viewed Temple as family, was deeply committed to education access and student support. She was a respected legal professional, serving in various roles including deputy city attorney and assistant U.S. attorney. Epps’ dedication to justice extended to her involvement with Philadelphia’s Police Oversight Board and other legal and ethical committees. Her love for her husband, L. Harrison Jay, was profound, and together they shared nearly four decades of partnership. To honor her memory, Temple University established scholarships reflecting her values of service, integrity, and leadership.
1970 – February 21, 2023
Boulder County Judge Kristy Martinez dies
Boulder County Judge Kristy Martinez, who served as the first full-time director of CU’s Korey Wise Innocence Project, passed away due to an unspecified illness. She was remembered for her empathetic presence in the courtroom and her dedication to justice. Attorney General Phil Weiser, who hired her at the University of Colorado Law School, praised her caring nature. Martinez, a cancer survivor, was known for her resilience and for supporting other breast cancer survivors. She was celebrated for living a life of purpose and is survived by her mother Sally and daughter Bella.
1964 – May 26, 2023
History making Monmouth County judge Lisa Thornton dead at 59. First Black woman assignment judge
Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Lisa Thornton, the first Black woman to become an assignment judge in New Jersey’s modern court system, died at 59. Remembered as a trailblazer, Thornton was appointed in 2014 and questioned why such a milestone had not been reached earlier. She was a mentor to many, including attorney Arlene Quinones Perez, and was known for her fairness and respect in the courtroom. Nominated by former Governor Jon Corzine in 2008, Thornton’s passing was a significant loss to the judiciary and those who knew her for her dedication, leadership, and compassion.
October 16, 1954 – 27 Jan 2023
Marcia Cooke, Florida’s First Black Female Federal Judge Dies
Marcia G. Cooke, Florida’s first Black female federal judge, died at 68 after battling health issues, including inoperable cancer. Appointed by President George W. Bush in 2004, she was confirmed by the Senate 96-0. Known for handling high-profile cases like the “dirty bomber,” Cooke was respected for her fairness and humor. She maintained strong Detroit connections, often returning for holidays. Her integrity and warmth were remembered by friends and colleagues, who praised her ability to humanize the federal courthouse. Cooke’s struggle with illness led her to step down from the bench, leaving a legacy of justice and compassion.
August 10, 1978 – July 14, 2023
Nicole Ducheneaux of Omaha, Nebraska
Nicole “Nikki” Ducheneaux, a dedicated advocate for indigenous rights and a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, passed away at 44 in Omaha, Nebraska. A respected attorney, she was recognized for her work in defending Tribal Sovereignty and Jurisdiction across various courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Nikki was also a loving mother, a mentor to young Native lawyers, and a friend known for her kindness and compassion. Her contributions to Indian Country and her vibrant spirit will be deeply missed by her family, friends, and all who knew her.
July 6, 1941 – March 24, 2023
Randall Robinson, human rights activist and lawyer, has died at 81
Randall Robinson, a prominent human rights activist and lawyer, passed away at 81 due to aspiration pneumonia in St. Kitts. Renowned for his leadership in the Free South Africa Movement and founding TransAfrica, Robinson was a vocal advocate for democracy and justice in Africa and the Caribbean. His daughter Khalea Ross Robinson remembered him as an incredible father who worked tirelessly for others. His activism was fueled by his personal experiences with segregation, and he was a strong proponent of reparations for Black Americans. After a distinguished career, including a hunger strike for Haitian democracy and writing several books, he retired to St. Kitts. Funeral services are planned in St. Kitts and Washington, D.C.
Ricky E. Wilkins
Died Oct 19, 2023
Ricky Wilkins, Memphis attorney and civic leader, dies at 58, leaves impact on city
Ricky E. Wilkins, a Memphis attorney and community figure, died at 58 from brain cancer. A Howard and Vanderbilt Law School alumnus, he returned to Memphis post-graduation. Wilkins served on the Memphis Housing Authority and ran his law firm, engaging deeply in local legal and political circles. He ran for Congress in 2014 and founded MEMPOWER to empower Black citizens politically. Known for his resilience and dedication, Wilkins was a mentor and friend to many, leaving a legacy of service and overcoming challenges. He is survived by his two daughters, having recently lost his wife and mother.
Ronald S.W. Lew
September 19, 1941 – May 19, 2023
Senior U.S. District Court Judge Ronald S.W. Lew, 81, Dies
Judge Ronald S.W. Lew, a respected figure in the legal community and the first Chinese-American judge in the Central District of California, passed away, leaving behind a legacy of fairness, mentorship, and community service. Known for his polite demeanor and firm judicial conduct, Lew was a role model who insisted on being recognized for his competence rather than his ancestry. His dedication to the law and his community was evident in his work ethic and his efforts to educate and support law students and lawyers. He was also a family man, deeply devoted to his wife Mamie and their children. His passing is mourned by many who remember him as a consummate gentleman, a legal giant, and a dear friend.
November 20, 1971 – March 17, 2023
Georgetown Law Assistant Dean Simone Woung Dies at 51
Simone Woung, an esteemed assistant dean and registrar at Georgetown Law, passed away at 51. Born in Jamaica, she graduated from the University of Miami and served at Georgetown Law for over two decades. Woung briefly worked at Marymount University before returning to Georgetown in 2018. She was involved in various committees and the National Network of Law School Officers. Her sudden passing is deeply felt by her family, colleagues, and students, who remember her as a compassionate and influential presence.
1976 – September 27, 2023
Accomplished SC attorney who never forgot his hometown of Swansea dead at 47
Stanley Myers, a respected Midlands attorney and military judge, died unexpectedly at 47 while walking his dog. He was a combat veteran, a Lieutenant Colonel, and a community leader in Swansea, where he gave back through initiatives like the Bike Bonanza program. Myers was also a successful quarterback at The Citadel and served on the Board of Visitors. His law partner, Jake Moore, and State Attorney General Alan Wilson, among others, praised his humility, leadership, and service. Myers is remembered for his significant contributions to both the military and his local community. He is survived by his wife and children.