Judge James McLeod
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Buffalo City Court Judge James A.W. McLeod, the great-nephew of educator Mary McLeod Bethune began his legal career by becoming the second African American attorney in Buffalo history to be hired as an associate attorney with a major law firm (the then firm of Doyle, Diebold, Bermingham, Gorman, and Brown). Having worked as a defense attorney involved in major cases, he was selected by Supreme Court Justice Samuel L. Green to become the first African American - outside of New York City - to serve as a Confidential Law Clerk. Judge McLeod’s career continued with his becoming the first and only African American attorney to head as Buffalo/Erie County Legal Aid Bureau’s Public Defender Office; as well as the first and only African American to serve as Erie County’s Second Assistant County Attorney. His past or present legal affiliations include the Minority Bar Association of Western New York, Western New York Thurgood Marshall Organization, New York State Bar Association and the Erie County Bar Association where he was the first and only African American to serve as the Association Treasurer.
Judge McLeod’s past and present community affiliations include a founding member of the Black Leadership Forum, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, N.A.A.C.P., Buffalo Urban League, Board of the Humboldt-Ferry Y.M.C.A., Oracle Charter School, Western New York Foundation and Kaleida Health Board. He has lectured for the New York State Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Program, as well as schools and community groups. Judge McLeod has been recognized for his community service as the recipient of the Buffalo Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club Inc, “Man of the Year Award”; Black Achievers Award; Harriet Tubman Leadership Award; Minority Bar Association Legal Services Award; Back to Basics Community Service Award; Buffalo Special Police Jurist of the Year Award; Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority Social and Justice Human Rights Award; Fruitbelt Coalition Community Leadership Award and recipient of the Humboldt Ferry Branch Y.M.C.A. Volunteer of the Year Award to name a few. He recently accepted an Openness to Change award from Leadership Buffalo adding to his many accomplishments.
Judge McLeod was instrumental in the creation of an after-school youth intervention program, in conjunction with the Buffalo Board of Education,
The Willian-Emslie Y.M.C.A. and the Stop the Violence Coalition. A program created to work with at-risk young men and women, to get them off the streets and into a recreation/educational program geared at directing them into a G.E.D. program, or to remain in school and graduate.
In the fall of 2004, working with a religious organization in Niagara County, he helped to create a youth program geared again at-risk young men. Working with the family and adult courts in Niagara Falls, an evening reporting program was created in an effort to reduce the number of young men going through the courts who would otherwise be placed outside of their homes. The program is designed to keep these young men in the community and steer them away from unhealthy lifestyles.
He recently served as the President of the Western New York Foundation.