Justice Leah Ward Sears
Seizing Serendipity

Rebecca Shriver Davis

The pathbreaking life and career of a resolutley independent judge


"Justice Leah Ward Sears is important not only because it tells Justice Sears’s remarkable personal story and discusses her many contributions to law and history but also because it does all of that in the context of political, legal, and electoral events important to all of us. The book accomplishes the difficult task of telling the personal and inspirational story of a brilliant African American woman while also discussing some of the most difficult issues of our time. I recommend Justice Leah Ward Sears to anyone interested in women’s history, African American history, and biographies of extraordinary people.”
—Angela J. Davis, author of Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor

"The book also details Sears' judicial thought and discusses notable cases over which she presided, which is the account's most intriguing aspect. . . . This book will interest a variety of readers, from history buffs to anyone interested in Georgia's judicial system."
Library Journal

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This is the first full biography of Justice Leah Ward Sears. In 1992 Sears became the first woman and youngest justice to sit on the Supreme Court of Georgia. In 2005 she became the first African American woman to serve as chief justice of any state supreme court in the country. This book explores her childhood in a career military family; her education; her early work as an attorney; her rise through Georgia’s city, county, and state court systems; and her various pursuits after leaving the supreme court in 2009, when she transitioned into a life that was no less active or public.

As the biography recounts Sears’s life and career, it is filled with instances of how Sears made her own luck by demonstrating a sharpness of mind and sagacious insight, a capacity for grueling hard work, and a relentless drive to succeed. Sears also maintained a strict devotion to judicial independence and the rule of law, which led to decisions that would surprise conservatives and liberals alike, earned the friendship of figures as diverse as Ambassador Andrew Young and Justice Clarence Thomas, and solidified a reputation that would land her on the short list of replacements for two retiring U.S. Supreme Court justices.

As a woman, an African American, a lawyer, and a judge, Sears has known successes as well as setbacks. Justice Leah Ward Sears shows that despite political targeting, the death of her beloved father, a painful divorce, and a brother’s suicide, she has persevered and prevailed.

A Sarah Mills Hodge Fund Publication

Page count: 184
14 b&w images
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $34.95

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Rebecca Shriver Davis is an associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology and founding director of the Office of Pre-Law Advising at Georgia Southern University. She is the coauthor of Judge Faye Sanders Martin: Head Full of Sense, Heart Full of Gold.