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Honorable Patricia C. Jessamy


In office
February, 1995 – present
Preceded by Stuart O. Simms
Constituency Baltimore, Maryland

Born July 26, 1948 (1948-07-26) (age 61)
Hollandale, Mississippi
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Howard Jessamy
Alma mater Jackson State University
Profession Attorney
Religion African Methodist Episcopal
Website http://www.stattorney.org/article01.html

Patricia Coats Jessamy is the chief prosecutor for the City of Baltimore, Maryland and the first African American woman to hold that position. She was appointed to head the Office of the State's Attorney in 1995 and has won three elections since.

Contents

Background

Born on July 26, 1948 in Hollandale, Mississippi Jessamy received a B.A. from Jackson State University in 1970 and graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1974. She was admitted to the Maryland Bar later that year.

Career

Patricia Coats Jessamy, State’s Attorney, Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City is the first woman to serve as Baltimore City State’s Attorney. She began her legal career in Maryland in 1985 as an Assistant State’s Attorney. In 1987, State’s Attorney Stuart Simms appointed Mrs. Jessamy Deputy State’s Attorney for Administration. As Deputy State’s Attorney, Mrs. Jessamy created the Victim Assistance Program and was responsible for all fiscal matters, budgets, and personnel. In 1995, the Circuit Court unanimously appointed Mrs. Jessamy State’s Attorney when Mr. Simms resigned following his appointment as State Secretary for Juvenile Services. She has successfully run for re-election in November 1998, 2002, and 2006.

Mrs. Jessamy is responsible for more than 400 employees, including over 200 prosecutors and 200 professional, paraprofessionals, and support staff. A budget of $31 million is derived from city, state, and federal funds. The hardworking professionals in the State's Attorney Office represent diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and the office is intentionally one of the most diverse in the country.

Mrs. Jessamy was born the seventh of eight children, on a farm in the Mississippi Delta. Despite being raised in a rural, poor, and segregated environment, her parents instilled in her the desire for an education and the encouragement to succeed. She attended high school in Hollandale, Mississippi, graduating in 1966. She graduated from Jackson State University in 1970 with a degree in History and Political Science and was awarded her Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi in 1974.

She fulfilled her life-long dream of becoming a lawyer in May 1974 when she began her legal career in Cleveland, Mississippi. Her passion for the law and her career goal to become a lawyer followed her parents’ involvement in the civil rights movement. It was crystallized when as a 16-year old teenager, Patricia Coats became a plaintiff in a federal court action filed by her parents under the Federal Public Accommodations Act. Her parents, as did the other parents who filed suit, wanted their children to be treated as equals in all places of public accommodation throughout Mississippi, including lunch counters in Hollandale, Mississippi.

Mrs. Jessamy practiced law in Mississippi for several years and as a private attorney, on behalf of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, won representation for black residents in Grenada, Mississippi. She later went on to practice law in Michigan and Missouri before moving to Maryland.

Awards and honors

  • Inductee, Baltimore City Commission on Women, 1995
  • Women's Hall of Fame, Baltimore City, 1996
  • Kathleen Kennedy Townsend Woman in Government Award, 1996
  • Maryland's Top 100 Women Award, Daily Record, 1996, 1998, 2001 (Circle of Excellence)
  • Distinguished Women Award, Alliance of Black Women Attorneys, 1997
  • Community Leadership Award, Baltimore Tuskegee Alumni Association, 1997
  • Torchbearer's Award, Coalition of 100 Black Women, 1998
  • Excellence in Achievement Award, Monumental City Bar Association and Baltimore City Bar Association, 1998
  • Service Award, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, 1999
  • Maryland Leadership In Law Award, Daily Record, 2001

Notes

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