May 29, 2024


2 min read

by BOTWC Staff

She’s breaking barriers!

Adrienne C. Nelson is a veteran jurist, serving as a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge for more than a decade in Oregon, OPB News reports. During that time, she also worked in private practice, serving as a public defender for the Portland nonprofit firm, Multnomah Defenders Inc. No stranger to making history, in 2018, Nelson became the first Black woman appointed to the Supreme Court, and the first to sit on any appellate court in the state of Oregon. Now she is back, making history as the first Black woman to become a federal district court judge in Oregon, confirmed this past February by the U.S. Senate. 

“I approach each case with an open mind and treat everyone fairly, impartially, because to the litigants their case is the most important case in the world. I try to communicate all decisions clearly, so that they can be understood. And if I’m so fortunate to be confirmed, I would continue to do that,” Nelson previously told the Senate during her hearing last October. 

Nelson is a native of Kansas City, holding a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, Texas Law news reports. She has served as the senior attorney/coordinator of the Portland State University Student Legal and Mediation Services, an adjunct professor at Lewis & Clark Law School, an Oregon delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates, and as president of the Owen M. Panner Inn of Court. 

For her work Nelson has received numerous accolades including the 2019 Loftus C. Carson II Trailblazer Award from Texas Law’s Thurgood Marshall Legal Society, the Woman of Influence Award by the Portland Business Journal, and in 2021, the North Clackamas School District named the Adrienne C. Nelson High School in her honor. 

Nelson previously credited her ancestors with guiding her to where she is today, saying she hopes to make them proud. 

“I would like to acknowledge the spirits of my late father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and dear friends who are no longer with us here on earth, but who are always with me. I feel their presence in the room today. I hope to make everyone proud,” said Nelson. 

Congratulations Judge Nelson!

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