It is fitting that US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper replaced a mentor, the late Reginald C. Lindsay, one of the first black judges to sit on the federal bench in Massachusetts. She has taken over his courtroom on the fifth floor of the Moakley courthouse. His portrait hangs there, a reminder of all the work he did, and all that Casper can accomplish.
Like Lindsay, Casper has broken ground in her own way. At 44, she’s the first black woman to sit on the federal court in Massachusetts. And like her mentor, she’s committed to encouraging others who might one day follow her.
“If you haven’t figured everything out, it will be OK, hang in there,’’ she tells the young lawyers she encounters every day and through programs with the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association. “I just tell them that they should set their goals high, and the first and foremost thing you can do is your best work.’’
“She’s an exceptional role model,’’ says US District Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf. At her relatively young age, he adds, Casper brings a fresh perspective to an aging federal court system in Massachusetts. “Younger people have had different experiences, and it’s valuable to have that on the court.’’
Soon after her appointment to the court in 2010, Wolf says, Casper became an obvious choice to be a sponsor of two fellowships administered by the federal court system in Massachusetts: the David S. Nelson Fellowship for inner-city high school students, named in honor of the first black judge to sit on the Massachusetts federal bench; and the Lindsay fellowship, named after Casper’s mentor and intended for college students considering law school.
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