NEW ORLEANS — Funeral services will be held Saturday for the first woman elected to serve as a judge in Louisiana and first African-American to serve as chief judge of the state's Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal.
The Louisiana Judicial Council, an affiliate of the National Bar Association Judicial Council, on Wednesday confirmed the Saturday death of Joan Bernard Armstrong. She was 77.
Armstrong retired from the bench in 2011 after 37 years, which made her the longest-serving judge in the state at the time. When she was elected to the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court bench in 1974, she was the first female and first African-American woman elected judge in the state. She later served as chief judge of the state's Fourth Circuit appellate court.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Mark Fourth Baptist Church in New Orleans. A widow, she is survived by two children: a son, Rev. David Armstrong; a daughter, Anna Armstrong Alexander; and two grandchildren. She is also survived by a sister, Florence Bernard James.
Armstrong graduated from Xavier University in 1963. Armstrong, who taught school by day to attend law school at night, earned her J.D. from Loyola University School of Law in 1967. She was elected without opposition to the appeals court in 1984, as that court's first female jurist. She became chief judge in 2003.
During her tenure on the bench, Armstrong was chairman of the Louisiana Conference of Court of Appeal Judges from 2004 to 2005 and was also a member of the Judiciary Budgetary Board; Judicial Ethics Committee; Judicial Human Resources Committee; Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Criminal Justice.