Miami Presents: Alumnae Judges on the Historic Supreme Court Appointment

Join us for a special conversation with three of Miami's Black alumnae judges in celebration of Women's History Month.

President Joseph Biden's historical appointment of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court of the United States brings into the focus all of the Black women who serve on the judicial bench across the country. Three of our Black alumnae will discuss the historical appointment of a Black woman to the Supreme Court and their experience serving as a judge.

The panel presentation is free but registration is required.  We will welcome your questions during registration or live during the event.  Please reach out to Seth Seward '11 at, with questions.  

Judge Wende C. Cross was elected in November 2020 to the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, General Division.  She believes that fairness, equity, and accessibility should be prioritized in our judicial system - and that belief is what lead her to a career of service, and to run for Common Pleas Judge.

After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University and her Juris Doctor from Salmon P. Chase College of Law, Judge Cross began her legal career practicing insurance defense litigation in a premier law firm in Lexington, Kentucky.  A few years later, she was recruited by the U.S. Department of Justice to serve as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and later the Southern District of Ohio in Cincinnati.  Her experience serving the community as a federal prosecutor gave her a sense of pride and fulfillment that eventually blossomed into a career of public service. 

For many years, Judge Cross managed a small law firm which primarily focused on civil rights litigation, family law and criminal defense.  Subsequently, she joined the bench as a Magistrate of the Hamilton County Juvenile Court, where she served children and families of Hamilton County for eight years.

Judge Cross’ hope for a better world drives her to be an engaged and active participant in the community.  She currently serves on the board of her local bar association, serves the community through involvement in the NAACP, her church, Impact 100, the Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati, and other community organizations.  She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a distinguished service organization. She also speaks regularly before student and youth groups and volunteers her time working on social community issues.

Judge Andrea Peeples received her Bachelors of Arts degree from Miami University and her Juris Doctorate from The Ohio State University. Before being elected, she served as legal counsel in the Franklin County Public Defender's Office, the Columbus City Attorney's Office, the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office, and finally in the Columbus City Attorney's Civil Division. She has trial experience in municipal, common pleas, juvenile, and federal court.

Judge Peeples was elected as a Franklin County Municipal Court Judge in 2005 and re-elected in 2011 and 2017. She has been appointed to the Advisory Committee on Interpreters Services for two terms by the Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court and served as a Delegate to the National Center for State Courts on the issues of Language Access in the Courts. For the past two years Judge Peeples has been on the Supreme Court Advisory Committee for Domestic Violence.

In addition to teaching Technology in the Courts, she has taught courses on Evidence Collection in Domestic Violence Cases; Law Enforcement Officers as Drug Recognition Experts; Advanced Standardized Field Sobriety Test OVI Course; Opiate Summit; Practical Court Applications in Interpreter Services along with the Supreme Court New Interpreters Court Procedure - Roles and the Record; Ohio Association of Court Administrators – Taking a Look at Sovereign Citizens; Know Your Rights and Immigration Updates. Judge Peeples was also a guest lecturer twice for the Moritz American Law and Language Summer Program and was on the Judicial Panel for Legal Aid New Lawyer Training.

Judge Jessica Price Smith was appointed to a 14-year term on the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio in 2011.  A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she is a graduate of Miami University where she was among the first group of students awarded the prestigious Harrison Scholarship.  She also graduated with distinction from the Ohio Northern University Claude W. Pettit College of Law where she was a member of the Law Review, Moot Court Board of Advocates, and was inducted into the Willis Society, the highest academic honor society at the College of Law. Judge Price Smith began her legal career as the law clerk to the Honorable Randolph Baxter, United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Northern District of Ohio, whom she succeeded on the bench.  She spent two years as a bankruptcy associate with the law firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP.  And, immediately, prior to becoming a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, was engaged in the private practice of law, representing corporate debtors, creditor committees, and trade creditors in all aspects of commercial bankruptcy cases and out of court debt restructuring as a shareholder at Brouse McDowell, LPA.  She also has the distinction of being the first African-American partner in the firm’s more than 90-year history.  In addition to practicing law, Judge Price Smith was a legal studies faculty member at Ursuline College in the adult accelerated education program.

Since her appointment to the bench, Judge Price Smith has been an active member of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges.  She currently serves the organization as chair of the Endowment Committee and as a member of the liaison committee to the National Bar Association.  In the Northern District of Ohio Bankruptcy Court, she serves as chair of the Budget Committee and as a member of the Strategic Planning Committee.  She also serves on the Attorney Admissions Fund Committee of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. In 2019, Judge Price Smith began a three year term on the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the Sixth Circuit.

Judge Price Smith has balanced her professional life with service to her community as a member of various civic boards and through her membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated, the Drifters, Incorporated and the Western Reserve (OH) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated. She and her husband Gregory Smith are the proud parents of two sons.

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The views expressed by presenters are their own and their appearance in a program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by Miami University Alumni Association.