Attorney’s Promotion Makes History

Monday, February 12th 2007, 8:54 pm
By: News On 6

A Tulsa attorney makes history on Monday; she joined the bench and broke down a barrier. News On 6 reporter Ashli Sims reports on the city’s first female African-American judge.

She's so new her name isn't even listed on the directory, yet. And even the title seems foreign to her.

"I've practiced in this court for 17 years with other attorneys, and now they're calling me 'your honor,' appropriately,” Judge Wilma Palmer said. “It's something I'm going to have to get used to."

Monday was Judge Palmer's first day on the job, but she's already made Tulsa history. She's the first black woman to join the Tulsa county bench.

"That's not the reason I applied, but I think it’s wonderful, I think its great,” said Palmer. “I think it’s an honor and I just want to do a great job for Tulsa and the district."

Palmer is from Tulsa, she attended Tulsa Pubic Schools and got both her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Tulsa. She had her own law practice, where she's worked in everything from probate to criminal to family law. It was a labor of love she's now had to leave behind.

"It’s an adjustment, certainly an adjustment. It's bittersweet, you have close that part to start another," she said.

As Palmer starts this new chapter in her life, she's got a little time to reflect on her place in the history books. She says it couldn't be more fitting to make history, during black history month.

“Timing, I don't think anyone could have timed it better, quite by accident, but yes, that's nice," Palmer said.

She hopes her example will inspire others.

“I think those kids just need some encouragement. I would say if you have something in your heart that you want to do, just go for it," Palmer said.

Judge Palmer was officially sworn in Monday morning, but there will be a ceremony February 20th to welcome her to the Tulsa bench. Her first assignment as special district judge is the protective order docket.