Mercer University’s Black Law Student Association is celebrating its 40th anniversary by honoring Georgia Court of Appeals Judge M. Yvette Miller with the 2018 Tony Baldwin Trailblazer Award.
The law student group presents the award annually to recognize “a distinguished Mercer alumna or alumnus who continues to make strides and create paths for diversity in the legal profession.” This year’s award is being presented at an event at the law school Saturday.
The students announced on the Mercer website that they chose Miller because she has “broken down numerous barriers for minorities and women in the legal profession, including being the first African-American female to serve as assistant district attorney in Fulton County and to practice law throughout the Brunswick Judicial Circuit.”
Miller also was the first African-American woman to serve as director judge of the Appellate Division on the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, to serve on the Georgia Court of Appeals and to serve as chief judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals.
“She remains committed to giving back and nurturing attorneys through her involvement in civic and professional organizations as well as her commitment and support of Mercer Law School,” the law students said.
Gov. Roy Barnes—the last Democrat to hold that office—appointed Miller to the Court of Appeals in 1999.
During her tenure as chief judge, she implemented electronic filing, which has improved access to the appellate court for attorneys and parties throughout the state of Georgia, according to a bio posted on the Georgia Supreme Court website last year when she served there as a substitute for Justice Nels Peterson.
Prior to her appointment to the Court of Appeals, she served on the State Court of Fulton County. She also served as one of the first female assistant district attorneys in the office of the Fulton County District Attorney.
Miller earned her B.A. at Mercer University and her J.D. from Mercer’s Walter F. George School of Law. She later received an LL.M. in litigation from Emory University School of Law and an LL.M. in the Judicial Process from the University of Virginia School of Law.
Miller has received numerous awards for her professional achievements, including being named a Fellow of the American Bar Association and the Jurist of the Year Award from the National Bar Association. She was also inducted into the “Academy of Women Achievers.” A native of Macon, Judge Miller is a lifelong member of Steward Chapel AME Church in Macon. She currently resides in Cobb County and is a member of Cascade United Methodist Church in Atlanta.