Georgia Bar Journal
GSB Vol. 14, NO. 6, Pg. 26.
A Woman of Many Firsts
GSB JournalVol. 14, NO. 6April 2009A Woman of Many Firstsby Stephanie J. WilsonOn Tuesday, Jan. 6, the Hon. M. Yvette Miller was sworn in as the chief judge of the Court of Appeals of Georgia. She was first appointed to the Court in 1999 by Gov. Roy Barnes and has since been re-elected for two six-year terms. Court of Appeals colleague Presiding Judge Gary B. Andrews administered the oath of office at the Capitol before an audience packed with members of the judiciary, state officials, attorneys, family and friends. Miller is the first African-American woman to hold this position. In fact, she is a woman of many firsts.
One of her earliest firsts was as an African-American student in the seventh grade at Walter P. Jones School in her hometown of Macon. Miller's mother-a teacher-was chosen to select the best and brightest African-American students to populate the white schools when Bibb County began integrating in the mid-to-late 1970s. She followed her mother to Walter P. Jones where they were the only two African-Americans at the school.
Miller decided at an early age, probably seven- or eight-years-old, that she wanted to study law and become a lawyer. Some of her experiences growing up in Macon helped her to arrive at this decision and she knew she wanted to make a difference and help people. The practice of law was Miller's way to reach out to her community.
Later, Miller joined the Fulton County District Attorney's Office as one of its first female prosecutors. She was also co-owner, general manager and general counsel of the first minority-owned Ford Lincoln-Mercury automobile dealership in Jesup-one of the first of its kind in the state. While at the dealership, she developed a private legal practice and became the first female attorney to practice in Jesup and throughout the Brunswick Judicial Circuit.
Then in 1992, Gov. Zell Miller appointed her as the director and judge of the Appellate Division of the State Board of Workers' Compensation, making her the first woman, the first African-American and the youngest person to ever hold that position. At the time, she had actually applied for a Superior Court judgeship. Due to the governor's previous career as a history professor, she claims that it was likely his great love of...