1st Ethiopian-American Judge Nina Ashenafi Re-elected for 3rd Term

Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Leon County, Florida is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: May 11th, 2020

First Ethiopian-American Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson Re-elected for Third Term

New York (TADIAS) – Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States, has been re-elected to a third term.

Judge Ashenafi Richardson was automatically reelected to the Leon County bench in Florida “after her lone opponent dropped out, saying the coronavirus crisis made it too difficult to proceed,” reported The Tallahassee Democrat. “Stephen M. James, a Tallahassee attorney who filed to run in February, notified the Supervisor of Elections Office on Friday [April 24th] — about an hour before qualifying ended — that he was exiting the race.”

According to the newspaper: “James would have had to collect 2,132 voter signatures or pay a $6,072 fee to qualify for the race and appear on the ballot. Ashenafi Richardson paid the fee.”

Born in Ethiopia, Nina came to the U.S. as a young girl. She was raised by her late father Professor Ashenafi Kebede, the renowned Ethiopian composer and musicologist, who was the Founder and first Director of the National Saint Yared School of Music in Ethiopia. Professor Kebede taught Ethnomusicology in the U.S. and served as the Director of the Center for African-American Culture at Florida State University, where his daughter later earned her law degree. He was also the Director of the Ethiopian Research Council, comprised of Ethiopian and American academics and professionals, which was founded by African American scholar Leo Hansberry.


Judge Nina Ashenafi-Richardson (Photo: Tallahassee Democrat)

Per her bio: “Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson has served as a Leon County Judge in Tallahassee, Florida since 2008. Prior to her election, she spent the majority of her career representing teachers and university faculty as in-house counsel with the Florida Education Association and as adjunct faculty at Barry University’s Tallahassee campus. She has distinguished herself as a first in many categories, including as the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States and the first African-American elected president of the Tallahassee Women Lawyers and the Tallahassee Bar Association. She is also a former president of the William H. Stafford American Inn of Court. The Conference of County Court Judges of Florida awarded her the Distinguished Leadership Award in 2016, and she was also the recipient of the Florida Bar’s 2019 Distinguished Judicial Service Award.”

Related:

Nina Ashenafi Richardson Becomes First Elected Ethiopian-American Judge

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