By Cillea Houghton
NASHVILLE, TN — Honorable Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton’s election for Davidson County Division II Criminal Court Judge is built on years of community service. Dalton was appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam to fill the seat following former Judge Randall Wyatt’s retirement, who’s term would be up in 2022. Honorable Judge Dalton is running for election in May to fill the remainder of the term.
“This job is something that is extremely important to me, something that I definitely enjoy doing because it’s for the good of the community and my entire career has been in service to the community,” said Honorable Judge Dalton. “I’m just glad to be able to continue to serve in this capacity, so I’m glad that the governor made this choice and that I can expand my service to the community.”
The Honorable Judge Dalton began her career as an assistant district attorney where she was assigned to the juvenile division prosecuting delinquency cases. “That was important because it was a time where I could directly have an impact and influence, hopefully a positive influence, on our young people who come through the court system and do something to try to put them on a good path,” she said.
Her 11-year tenure as a Davidson County General Sessions judge put Dalton in the position to combat domestic violence, working exclusively with such cases when former Mayor Karl Dean instituted the Domestic Violence Safety and Accountability Assessment. It is during this time Honorable Judge Dalton gained a clear understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and its impact on families and the community.
“That to me was vitally important and I was very pleased to be a part of that because I think it helped us to make sure that not only the victims of cases involving domestic violence received these services and the attention that they need, but also those who were charged. When they came in, they knew that their cases were being handled fairly and by a judge who understands domestic violence,” Honorable Judge Dalton said.
She made local history as the first African-American woman in Nashville elected to judgeship in 2006 when she joined the General Sessions Court and was the first African-American woman to serve in criminal and circuit court levels in Davidson County when appointed by Gov. Haslam.
“What’s important to me, first and foremost, that we have people who are going to be fair and who are going to serve with an open mind and be just and be respectful, those are the most important attributes of a judge,” she said. “When you come in as a judge regardless of race or gender, you have to have the appropriate temperament. I’m glad that I’m in a position where I can hopefully influence others to make career choices that will help them. I’m in a position where I can be a positive influence not only on other lawyers, but just people in the community as a whole.”
In addition to her service as a judge, Honorable Judge Dalton played an instrumental role organizing and conducting domestic violence and sexual assault awareness seminars at Tennessee State University and establishing bullying prevention seminars in local high schools. She also conducts a yearly ministry through her church to distribute backpacks and school supplies to children in the community. “I say that my service to the community is not just what I do in the courtroom, but it’s also just getting out there and making sure that we service the community holistically,” she said. “Our justice system is very important for our community and it is so important that we have people in our justice system who understand and take it seriously… I think that people need to know that they have a judge who is going to be fair and who is going to be respectful, who is going to, at the end of the day, do the right thing.”