Donald L. Graham
United States District Court for the
Southern District of Florida
Born: Salisbury, North Carolina-December 15, 1948.
Education: West Virginia State College (B.A., magna cum laude, 1971); Ohio State University College of Law, (J.D. 1974).
Graham was appointed to the United States District Court for the
Southern District of Florida on September 16, 1991 by President Bush.
Judge Graham grew
up in a middle class family in racially segregated North Carolina. His
mother was an elementary school teacher and his father a state clerk.
He credits many of his teachers for "urging that the path to success,
even in the midst of their totally segregated society, was education."
Of his decision to become a lawyer, he says:
As a result of
the civil rights era of the 1960's, I decided that I wanted to become
an attorney. Experiencing segregation at its worst as a youngster in
North Carolina created an indelible impression on me. I felt that if I
was to affect social change, it could best be done through the practice
In 1974, upon
graduation from Ohio State University College of Law, Graham joined the
Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps, United States Army, in
Charlottesville, Virginia. In the JAG Corps, he served as an Assistant
Staff Judge Advocate at Homestead Air Force Base, Homestead, Florida;
an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate Officer in Charge, Gelnhausen Legal
Center, West Germany; and as a Prosecuting and Defense Counsel, Third
Armored Division, Frankfurt, West Germany. During the same time period,
he was an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Maryland-European
Division, Hanau, West Germany.
From 1979 to
1984, Judge Graham was an Assistant United States Attorney for the
Southern District of Florida in Miami, Florida. While with the United
States Attorney's Office, he was Chief of the Special Prosecutions
Division, Chief of the Major Narcotics Traffickers Section, Chief of
the Intake Unit, and on Special Assignment with the Department of
Justice Organized Crime and Racketeering Section (Miami Strike Force).
In 1984, Judge
Graham left the United States Attorney's Office to become a founding
partner of the law firm of Raskin & Graham, P.A. He remained in
private practice until he was appointed to the federal bench in 1991.
Judge Graham has
received numerous awards and academic honors. He was a West Virginia
Board of Regents Distinguished Military Graduate and a member of the
Alpha Kappa Mu National Honor Society. During law school, Graham was a
member of the Honor Council, a Moot Court Best Oralist Award recipient,
and a recipient of the Judge Harter Memorial Hooding Award as the
Outstanding Trial Practice student, an award that convinced him that he
could be competitive at the highest level. Later, while with the
Department of Justice, Judge Graham received a Special Achievement
Award, and the Arthur S. Fleming Award, which is presented to one of
ten outstanding young men and women in Federal Service. Also, in 1989,
Judge Graham received a Certificate of Merit from the Dade County Bar
Association. Additionally Judge Graham is the recipient of the United
States Army Commendation Medal with First, Second, Third and Fourth Oak
Leaf Clusters, and a United States Army Achievement Medal.
sought appointment as a federal judge not because of any lifelong
ambition, but because, at that time, there were no African-American
federal judges in the State of Florida. He urges aspiring lawyers and
judges "to get the best undergraduate and post-graduate education
possible" and to "become involved in community activities and bar
functions so that others are aware of their accomplishments."
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