First elected Black female judge in Duval County sworn in

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Rhonda Peoples-Waters made history in Duval County on Tuesday when she was sworn in at the courthouse as the first elected Black female court judge to take the bench in the county.

Peoples-Waters is not the first Black female in the role, as three others have been appointed, but she is the first to be elected.

“I do honor God and he must get the glory in this moment,” she said just before taking the oath. “After 18 attempts I stand before you today, as I am about to be sworn in.”

Peoples-Waters has referring to the 13 times she was a finalist for judicial nominations, only to be snubbed by governors. She also ran for the office four times before finally winning the office.

“I told her to never give up whatever her dreams are or were at that time and to just pursue them, and she did that,” Ronald Peoples said.

A news article lies near the bench, highlighting the lack of diversity in local courtrooms.

Today with family and friends beside her, Peoples-Waters, will finally take her seat as judge Peoples Waters and become a part of the diversity the city wants in courtrooms.

A news article lies near the bench highlighting the lack of diversity in local courtrooms.

Today with family and friends beside her, Peoples-Waters, finally took her seat as Judge Peoples-Waters and become a part of the diversity the city wants in courtrooms.

“I believe that judges are important parts of this community -- servants of this community -- and that’s what I will look forward to investing and participating in,” she said.

This may be the last time we hear from Peoples-Waters in an interview. Judges rarely do any type of interview so not to give the public an impartial opinion about any topic that could impact the courtroom.

County judges handle misdemeanors, small-claims lawsuits, and evictions. They also decide whether or not to release defendants awaiting trial. County judges rotate between civil and criminal cases each week.

“This is a historic event in the history of the state of Florida and the city of Jacksonville,” said Ben Frazier, president of The Northside Coalition. “Both the state and the city are finally starting to move forward, and finally starting to eliminate discrimination by sex and race. We can all share in this proud and joyful moment, that finally she is being judged by the content of her character and not by the color of her skin.”


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