By Kristen A. Tajak, Esq.
On July 1, 2011, the Third District Court of Appeal passed the gavel to the Honorable Judge Linda Ann Wells, who is the first female Chief Judge to serve on the Court in its 52-year history. Chief Judge Wells is one of only five women to have served on the Court since its inception, along with the Honorable Judge Barbara Lagoa and the Honorable Judge Leslie Rothenberg, who both also currently serve on the Court.
A “passing the gavel” ceremony honoring Chief Judge Wells and outgoing Chief Judge Juan Ramirez, Jr., was held at the Court on July 14, 2011. This historic event was attended by many of Chief Judge Wells’ colleagues, family, and friends. During the ceremony, Chief Judge Wells reminded those present of a time – not very long ago – when few women were admitted to law school, considered for legal jobs, or promoted to judicial or leadership roles. Following a brief quote from the united States Supreme Court case of Bradwell v. Illinois,1 which upheld the right of Illinois to exclude a married woman from the Illinois bar, Chief Judge Wells thanked all of her “sisters in the law” who persevered, despite these ever-present obstacles, to become successful attorneys and leaders, and who ultimately paved the path for her to be selected as the first female Chief Judge of the Third District Court of Appeal. This ceremony was regarded by many as a special and memorable event in the 52-year history of the Court.
Chief Judge Wells’ tenure will run through July 2013.
1. 83 u.S. 130 (1873).