UF Supreme Court appoints 25-year-old daughter of immigrants as its first Black woman chief justice

Dollita Okine February 19, 2024
Photo: Linkedin/Britney Deas

Britney Deas, a 25-year-old Haitian University of Florida (UF) Levin College of Law student born and raised in Miami, is the first Black woman to be appointed as chief justice of the UF Supreme Court. Deas said the announcement of her new position coincides with Black History Month and emphasizes the importance of celebrating Black History every day.

“Black history is American history,” Deas said to The Independent Florida Alligator “It’s important to know where you come from so you can know where you’re going.”

Deas began serving as an associate justice on the UF Supreme Court in the spring of 2023. She planned to become chief justice in the fall of 2024. She has now commenced her tenure as Chief Justice, which comes with additional obligations. Even though she has a lot of work ahead of her, she described this as one of the most memorable events of her time at UF Law because she made history.

As chief justice, she hopes to continue her mission of serving the people. Her responsibilities include overseeing hearings and serving as the point of contact for any materials submitted for evaluation. She, along with the four associate judges, considers appeals, assures impartiality, and settles disputes presented before the court. 

She also set a precedent as the first Black woman to serve as student body president at the University of South Florida (USF) and the first woman to do so in 20 years. In her freshman year, she joined student government as a street teamer, a voluntary role that helped spark students’ interest in SG. After that, she was elected to the Senate and won the title of Senator of the Year.

Deas, who attended the University of South Florida for her undergraduate studies, has started to outline her plans for her tenure as chief justice. These include organizing a law school checklist for prospective undergraduate applicants, arranging a panel discussion with professors of constitutional law, and inviting judges, attorneys, and public defenders from Florida to give speeches about their professional experiences.

The resident of Gainesville, who is from an immigrant household, said, “I was always inspired by women fighting oppression and women who are standing up for people who cannot stand up for themselves. I saw it in my home with my grandmother, my great grandmother and my mother.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 19, 2024


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