Lorna Lockwood  (b. 1903, d. 1977)
Lorna Lockwood Arizona Capitol Museum
Lorna Lockwood created a remarkable career in law. After graduating from the University of Arizona's College of Law in 1925, she became a lawyer, an assistant attorney general of Arizona, a Superior Court judge, and an Arizona Supreme Court chief justice. She was the first female chief justice of a state supreme court in the United States.

Region: Phoenix and Central Arizona
Theme: Women in Politics and Government

Lockwood was born in Douglas in 1903. Her father was a lawyer, and from childhood, Lorna Lockwood dreamed of entering the same field. After graduating from Tombstone High School, she went on to the University of Arizona. She completed her bachelor's degree in 1923 and entered law school, even though the Dean claimed that the field of law "was no place for a woman." Sarah Sorin, Arizona's first female lawyer, became a role model for Lockwood, proving that women could excel in the field. As the only woman among thirteen law students in her class, Lockwood's minority status did not appear to limit her; she was elected president of the Student Bar Association.

After passing the State Bar in 1925, Lockwood found limited job opportunities. She spent fourteen years as a legal stenographer before forming the state's first all-woman legal practice with another female lawyer. In 1939, she gained election to the Arizona House of Representatives where she served until resigning in1942 to work for Arizona Congressman John Murdock in Washington, D.C. From 1947 to 1949, Lockwood served another term in the state legislature and chaired the House Judiciary Committee before she accepted the position of assistant to the state attorney general.

Lorna Lockwood's judicial career began in 1951 as a trial judge on the Maricopa Superior Court. In this capacity, she spent three and one-half years as a juvenile court judge and became known as a tough judge who was also fair and impartial. Lorna Lockwood was elected to the Supreme Court of Arizona in 1961 where she served for fourteen years. In 1965 she became chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, a one-year position, which she held again in 1970.

Lockwood's prominence as a female judge and her excellent reputation led President Lyndon Johnson to consider her for the position of Supreme Court Justice in 1967. President Johnson instead nominated Thurgood Marshall who was confirmed as the first African American on the highest court.

Drawing on her experience as a juvenile court judge, Lockwood worked in the community to establish neighborhood councils designed to prevent delinquency. She also started the Arizona chapter of Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

Although Lockwood said she was not a "militant feminist", she influenced the women's movement in Arizona by breaking numerous barriers for women in the legal profession and also personally advocating for women's causes. She supported the Equal Rights Amendment and encouraged women to take an active role in civic life. Lorna Lockwood died at the age of 74 from pneumonia.

She worked as a justice of the state Supreme Court in the building that is now the Arizona State Library. However, she served as representative in the historic House Chamber of the Arizona Capitol Museum, located at 1700 W. Washington. It is open to the public Monday through Saturday. Call for hours 602-926-3620.

To learn more about her, review these sources:

Philip R. VanderMeer, "Lorna C. Lockwood," in Encyclopedia of Women in the American West, edited by Gordon Morris Bakken and Brenda Farrington, Sage Publications, Inc. 2003, pp. 190-193.

Photo Credits:
Lorna Lockwood - Courtesy of Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records, Archives Division, 97-7013
Arizona Capitol Museum - Courtesy of Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, Museum Division


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