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Vicki Miles-Lagrange

Vicki Miles-Lagrange

United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Born: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma-September 30, 1953.
Education: Vassar College (B.A. 1974); Howard University School of Law (J.D. 1977). Judge Miles-LaGrange was appointed to the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma on November 28, 1994, by President Clinton.

Vicki Miles-LaGrange was raised in Oklahoma City's historically black northeast side, just blocks north of the ever-present odor of a large municipal sewerage treatment plant. She remembers the pride and prejudice of years spent battling for civil rights during the 60's and 70's:

I can remember Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a counterbalance to all of the civil unrest with his commitment to non-violent social change. I can remember seeing Clara Luper, Reverend W.K. Jackson and E. Melvin Porter, among others, trying to integrate the Forum Cafeteria down on Main Street. I can also remember the sit-ins in Alabama and the dogs. I have those images. I can remember all of that.

Throughout all of the social turmoil of the times, Judge Miles-LaGrange's parents, Charles and Mary Miles, remained sources of great strength. She considers her parents to be "two ordinary people who shared extraordinary hopes, dreams, and aspirations for their two daughters." Both educators, Charles and Mary Miles emphasized the tremendous value of education and life-long learning. In particular, Judge Miles-LaGrange recalls, "I got so much encouragement at home. . . . Even when it was drawing a few lines on a piece of paper, you would have thought I was Michelangelo. Whatever my sister and I did, they were so supportive."

Upon graduation from law school, Miles-LaGrange worked for the United States Justice Department (1977-79; 1982-83). In 1983, longing to return to her roots, she went back to Oklahoma City and joined the Oklahoma City District Attorney's Office (1983-86). Then, in 1986, Judge Miles-LaGrange embarked upon a grassroots campaign and defeated a 22-year incumbent for the position of Oklahoma State Senator where she served from 1986 to 1993. She is particularly proud of legislation she sponsored which affected the quality of life for women, children and families concerning measures which make stalking a crime, improving infant and maternal care in Oklahoma, and affording minority contractors a better chance to compete for state projects.

Moreover, Judge Miles-LaGrange's accomplishments are a parade of "firsts." She was the first African-American to serve as a law clerk for a federal district judge in South Texas and the first African-American woman elected to the Oklahoma Senate. She was also the first African-American United States Attorney in the State of Oklahoma, and among the first African-American female U.S. Attorneys in the nation. With her appointment to the federal bench in 1994, Judge Miles-LaGrange has most recently become the first African-American federal district judge in the six states which make up the Tenth Circuit.

However, Judge Miles-LaGrange notes, "I don't want to be known as the first black. The reputation on the bench I'll be working to earn is that of a competent, prepared, fair and impartial judge."

Judge Miles-LaGrange says that she is still very much motivated by her grandmother's favorite saying: Good, better, best. I must work harder than the rest until my "good" becomes my "better" and my "better" becomes my "best."

She advises aspiring lawyers to "academically prepare yourself, don't take yourself too seriously, and try to live a "balanced' life."

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