October 21, 2017 – Philadelphia, PA
Judge Dwayne D. Woodruff is used to blazing trails.
He did so as a member of Pittsburgh Steelers, when the former defensive back helped the Steelers win a Super Bowl in 1980, the first of his 12 seasons with the team, one as team captain.
He found time during his playing days to earn a law degree at night from Duquesne University. That led to a 17-year private practice, mostly on the defense side, and eventually to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, where he has served mostly in the Family Court Division since 2005.
Now 60, Woodruff has one more hurdle to clear. On Nov. 7, he wants to succeed former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Robert N.C. Nix Jr. to become just the second elected African American to the oldest state supreme court in the land.
Established in 1722, two other African Americans have been appointed to the court — Justice Cynthia Baldwin and Juanita Kidd Stout — but only Nix, the grandson of a former slave, who served as the Chief Justice from 1984-1996, was elected to the court.
The historical gravity of his potential election to the court is not lost on him. But Woodruff believes there is significantly more to it.
“By all means I think it’s positive and historical,” Woodruff, the first African American endorsed by the Democratic Party for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, said. “But as I’ve been indicating across the state, I’m qualified for this position with regard to my legal experience.
“I am not asking people to vote for me because I am Black,” Woodruff, one of just three Black judges out of 45 in Allegheny County, continued. “I’m asking them to vote for me because I am qualified, I understand the issues and I want to continue to broaden my service to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
Read the full article here: The Philadelphia Tribune
Written by: John Mitchell