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Alum Joins Supreme Court

Alum Joins Supreme CourtLaura Denvir Stith becomes the second woman in Missouri history to serve on the state's highest court. St. Louis, Missouri.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [03.08.01] Yesterday, the Missouri Supreme Court swore in Tufts graduate Laura Denvir Stith as its newest member, making her just the second woman in history to serve on the state's highest court.

But Judge Stith won't have much time to adjust to her new appointment.

"We need Laura to go to work," Chief Justice William Price told the Associated Press, noting that Stith will take the bench immediately. "Laura has been a judge before, so she is used to going into a courtroom. I'm sure the will be a more pleasant experience because she will be going into that courtroom."

A 15-year veteran of the Missouri legal system, Stith has accumulated a top-rated record in the state. Those credentials, experts say, helped propel her to the top of the list of candidates for the Supreme Court position.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Legal experts who have closely analyzed [the candidates'] opinions, say that Ms. Stith's show considerably more legal scholarship and sophistication."

Stith has held a judgeship since 1994, when she became the first woman elected to the Missouri Court of Appeals. As an appelate judge, the Tufts graduate authored more than 400 opinions. According to the Associated Press, her work has included landmark decisions, such as the 1997 ruling that "a woman who helps another person commit a rape can also be charged with rape"--the first judicial decision made on the issue.

But Stith's work has not been limited by her professional obligations. The Tufts graduate organized a group of lawyers to tutor children in Kansas City.

Stith's induction marks a homecoming for her. According to the AP, she served as a clerk for the Supreme Court in the late 1970s.

"It's kind of a dream for me to come back here and hear cases as a judge," Stith told the international wire service. "In a little corner of my mind, I thought one day I would be here, but to be honest I never thought that would come true for me. We all have dreams and I'm glad this one came true."

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