Dallas Loses Icon in Legal Community: Retired Judge Louis A. Bedford, Jr. Passes Away
Hon. Louis A. Bedford, Jr. passed away Thursday, April 10, 2014. Born in 1926, Judge Bedford was a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School and Prairie View A&M. He earned his law degree in 1951 from the Brooklyn Law School and went on to organize the J.L. Turner Legal Society in 1952. He served as the organization's historian until his death.
“Judge Bedford lived through, and helped bring about, many needed changes in the legal and political landscape of Dallas,” said Scott McElhaney, President of the Dallas Bar Association. “He was a humble leader and a mentor to many. He will be greatly missed.”
A trailblazer throughout his life, Judge Bedford served as the first African American Judge in Dallas County beginning in 1966 and later returned to private practice. He was the fourth African American lawyer to join the Dallas Bar Association in 1968, and was unanimously elected to the Board of Directors in 1984.
In 1990 he played a leadership role in moving the Dallas Bar Association forward by making the Presidents of the J.L. Turner Legal Society and the Mexican American Bar Association (now the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association) voting members of the Dallas Bar Association Board of Directors.
Judge Bedford received every honor that the Dallas Bar Association bestows. He was the first recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice Award in 1992. Upon receiving the award, he said “The award really isn’t necessary; we all should be about justice.” In 1998, he received the DBA Trial Lawyer of the Year Award for his lifetime commitment to trial work and to the legal profession; and in 2001 he received the Morris Harrell Professionalism Award.
In 2009, Judge Bedford was the subject of the book Quest for Justice: Louis A. Bedford Jr. and the Struggle for Equal Rights in Texas, written by SMU historian Darwin Payne.
The Dallas Bar Association is a professional, voluntary organization of more than 11,000 Dallas-area attorneys.