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First female black judge Jane Bolin dies in LIC

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Bolin, who was born in Poughkeepsie but lived in Queens at the time of her death, was also the first black woman to receive a law degree from Yale University in 1931, setting the stage for her historic appointment by LaGuardia to become the judge of the city's Domestic Relations Court where she served from 1939 to 1979.Two years prior, Bolin became the first black person to serve as an assistant corporation counsel in the city.Bolin was born on April 11, 1908 to Poughkeepsie's Gaius C. Bolin, a lawyer who was the first black graduate of Williams College, and Matilda Emery, a white Englishwoman.Bolin became interested in law after spending afternoons in her father's office, looking through his leather-bound law books. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1928 and three years later received her law degree from Yale. In biographies, Bolin said she encountered discrimination at both schools.Bolin worked at her father's law office and passed the state bar exam in 1932. She married attorney Ralph Mizelle and they opened their own practice in the city. In 1937, she was named assistant corporation counsel for the city and was appointed as judge of the Domestic Relations Court two years later.Two important changes she helped to make in the court system included the assignment of probation officers to cases without regard for race or religion and a requirement that private child care agencies that received public funds had to accept children without regard to ethnic background.Bolin was vocal about women's rights in the 1950s and took an active role in the NAACP on a local and national level. Bolin is survived by her son, Yorke Mizelle, as well as a granddaughter and great granddaughter.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by email at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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