First Black Judge on Louisiana's High Court Dies

Published June 23, 2008

Posted June 23, 2008 – Justice Revius O. Ortique, a seminal civil rights figure and the first African American elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court, died Sunday following a stroke a week earlier. He was 84 years old.

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The New Orleans native and World War II veteran earned his bachelor’s degree from Dillard University, a master’s from the University of Indiana and his law degree from Southern University in 1956, according to HistoryMakers.com.

Ortique began his own private law practice in 1956, working on any type of case but focusing primarily on estate cases. His practice became one of the largest estate practices in the State of Louisiana. As the President of the Community Relations Council, Ortique served as "chief negotiator" for the peaceful desegregation of lunch counters, hotels and other public facilities in New Orleans.

Between 1965 and 1967, Ortique served as the president of the National Bar Association. In 1970, after the National Guard shot to death four students and wounded four others who were protesting the war in Southeast Asia, then-President Richard Nixon appointed Ortique to the President's Commission on Campus Unrest. Four years later, Nixon named Ortique to the newly created Legal Services Corporation, designed to guarantee equal access to the criminal justice system by providing legal assistance to poor defendants.

In 1992, Ortique was elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court; he retired two years later. He was named an alternate to the United Nations General Assembly by President Clinton in 1999, HistoryMakers.com says.

Written by BET-Staff

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