Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On January 4

On this day in ...
... 1972 (40 years ago today), in England, Rose Heilbron (right) became the 1st woman appointed to sit as a judge at the Old Bailey in London. Indeed, as the Guardian later reported, "[a]lmost everything" was a 1st for Heilbron, who'd been born in 1914 in Liverpool, earned a law degree, with 1st class honors, in 1935, and who was called to the bar in 1939. She was, for instance, among the 1st 2 women to be made QC, or Queen's Counsel, barristers. The Guardian wrote:
Those jealous of her career have said that she benefited from the fact that, for her first six years, so many able men were in the armed forces. Given the prejudices of the bar at the time, there is little doubt that, without the second world war, she would have faced more limitations, but her meteoric rise once the men were back proved that she was head and shoulders above most of her contemporaries. A Liverpool journalist of the time recalls, 'She got up there by sheer hard work and cleverness.'
She'd gained renown, as a defense attorney for high-profile criminal accused, by the time she was appointed to the bench in the 1970s. A member of the High Court following the Old Bailey stint, Heilbron worked for the reform of England's laws against rape. (credit for undated National Portrait Gallery photo, by Elliott & Fry) She died at age 91 in 2005.

(Prior January 4 posts are here, here, here, and here.)

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