BUILDING ON A LEGACY...
Judge Deborah Geraldine Bledsoe Ford is a stalwart of the Trial Docket for the 36th District Court in Detroit. In addition to just and fair adjudication of traffic cases, she has also effectively handled preliminary examinations, arraignments, civil lawsuits and landlord tenant disputes.
Since first elected in 2004, Judge Bledsoe Ford has brought a wealth of experience to the bench. Dedicated to her work, Judge Bledsoe Ford rarely leaves the bench while court is in session, completing each docket before breaking for lunch or the evening, and decisively manages her courtroom efficiently and effectively (with the support of her excellent staff).
She loves to serve the public and convert her extensive trial background skills into positive courtroom decisions for the public, which is demonstrated by a very low appeal rate from her courtroom. She never punishes anyone for exercising their right to a trial—even if they lose.
For Judge Bledsoe Ford, law is in her legacy—the daughter of the prominent, late Geraldine Bledsoe Ford (who in 1966 was the first African American female judge in Michigan, and one of the first women judges in the country), the niece of the late William Felga Bledsoe (1984), a former jurist in the Highland Park District Court, granddaughter to Harold Edward Bledsoe, the first African-American Assistant Attorney General in Michigan. she is proud to carry on the family name and tradition. In fact, Judge Bledsoe Ford and her mother were the first mother-daughter judges in Michigan, and only the second in the country.
Judge Bledsoe Ford prides herself on bringing quality and fair judicial service to the public every day, along with a friendly temperament and disposition to the bench. Litigants leave her Courtroom with their paperwork and a handpicked court date for their convenience, rather than waiting for an arbitrary court date in the mail. Litigants are also able to freely ask questions whenever they do not understand the legal process or their cases.
Her exceptional and broad law career has included positions with the Juvenile Defender Office, The City of Detroit Law Department, Clerk to Federal Judge Julian Able Cook at the U.S. District Court, as well as a very successful tenure in private practice as a trial-lawyer. She is also an involved member of a number of professional, civic and social organizations, including the District Judges Association, the Black Judges Association, the Detroit Junior League, and the Junior League Gardeners. She is also an active member on various committees at Plymouth United Church of Christ, the Palmer Woods Neighborhood Association, The Links, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the Detroit Study Club (formerly the Friends of the Arts for Detroit Country Day School), and the Friends of the African American Museum, to name a few .
A 1981 graduate of the Boston College School of Law, Judge Ford also holds two Masters Degrees from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelors Degree from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. (She has a certified floral license from the State of Michigan). She is married to Attorney Jerome R. Watson (senior partner at Miller, Canfield, Paddock, & Stone Law Firm), and together they have two adult sons and a 21-year-old daughter, studying Fashion at Parsons School of Design in Paris.
Judge Ford has built her career on the legacy of her accomplished family, herself, and a genuine love for public service, enthusiastically taking the bench each day with an attitude of a fair heart and fair mind.