Judge Nina Ashenafi-Richardson wins the Distinguished Judicial Service Award
Judge Nina Ashenafi-Richardson of the Leon County Court system since 2008, is the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Judicial Service Award. The award, which honors outstanding and sustained service to the public especially as it relates to support of pro bono legal services, was presented by Chief Justice Charles T. Canady at a February 7 ceremony at the Supreme Court of Florida.
In addition to the demands of her court docket, Ashenafi-Richardson averages 15 to 25 hours a week in service to various legal or judicial pr
ograms, organizations and statewide committees.
Ashenafi-Richardson, who is the first Ethiopian-born person to serve as a judge in the United States, also was the first African-American ele
cted president of the Tallahassee Women Lawyers and the Tallahassee Bar Association. She is immediate past-president of the William H. Stafford American Inn of Court.
During her term as president of the Tallahassee Women Lawyers, the organization provided legal assistance through programs such as Law School for Laymen and Living Will workshops. TWL also offered legal counseling to battered women and their children, and mentorship programs for local students.
With the Tallahassee Bar Association, Ashenafi-Richardson is a regular leader in a diversity symposium, aimed at high school students in Leon County. The students visit the courts and enjoy a lunch at which they meet local leaders.
Another signature event is the Table for Eight, at which TBA members talk about the legal profession with law students. “Judge Nina is the go-to star,” said Eric Milles, current president of the TBA. “She just lifts everyone up.”
Ashenafi-Richardson helped in a recent collaboration between the Stafford Inn of Court and the Tallahassee Bar Association, to help the St. Andrews Bay American Inn of Court commit to more pro bono hours in the wake of Hurricane Michael.
She also is a member of Founders of Justice of North Florida Legal Services, helping educate the bench, bar and community about the importance of access to justice for all. She recently served on a subcommittee of the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice.
Ashenafi-Richardson came to the United States from Ethiopia as a young child. Her father was director of the Center for African-American Culture at Florida State University, the same university where Ashenafi-Richardson later would earn her law degree. In 2001, before she was elected to the bench, Ashenafi-Richardson received The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award for the 2nd Judicial Circuit.