One of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law’s most distinguished alumna, Judge Jean Murrell Capers, passed away Tuesday, July 18 at the age of 104, leaving an esteemed legacy as a trailblazer and civic activist. Judge Capers graduated in 1945 from Cleveland Law School, a predecessor to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
C|M|LAW Dean Lee Fisher announced that Capers will be honored as the first inductee selected to the recently announced Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Hall of Fame. She will be inducted into the inaugural Hall of Fame class October 19, 2017, at the Hall of Fame Celebration.
"Judge Capers epitomized our motto, ‘Learn Law. Live Justice.’ She will always be a legendary role model for our students," said Dean Fisher.
Capers worked as an assistant police prosecutor following her graduation from the Cleveland Law School. In 1949, Capers became the first woman of color elected to Cleveland City Council and served on the Council for 10 years, focusing her work on jobs, housing and recreation programs. She left the Council to serve as assistant state attorney general and later as a Cleveland Municipal Court judge from 1977 to 1986, stepping down from the bench due to an age restriction. Judge Capers continued her work as an attorney in private practice until 2011, when she retired at the age of 99.
Throughout her life, Capers fought to advance the cause of African-Americans and women seeking careers in law, education, government and public service. She held memberships in the National Bar Association, the NAACP, the Urban League, the National Association of Black Women Lawyers, the Council on Human Relations and several other community-based organizations. Capers worked as a teacher in the Cleveland Public School system before attending law school, believing she could help her community more in the legal sector.
In her spare time, Capers was a standout athlete and won Cleveland’s city-wide tennis championship. The tennis courts at East 105th Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in Cleveland are named in her honor.
Cleveland State University honored Judge Capers with an honorary doctor of laws degree in 2009.