Frank Howell Seay
First Native American Federal Judge
Born 1938 in Shawnee, OK, Judge Seay was the first Native American appointed to the federal bench. Oklahoma has always been the home of Judge Seay, who received both his Bachelors of Arts in 1961 and his law degree in 1963 from the University of Oklahoma. After law school, Judge Seay practiced as a private attorney and, at the same time, worked as an attorney for Seminole County, Oklahoma. In 1967, Judge Seay was became the First Assistant district attorney for the 22nd Judicial District of Oklahoma. Only one short year later, Judge Seay was elected Associate Judge of the District Court of Oklahoma for Seminole County, Oklahoma where he served for six years. Judge Seay was elevated to the level of Judge in 1974, and held this position until 1979.
In 1979, Judge Seay was appointed to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma by President Carter, becoming the first Native American appointed to a federal court. Judge Seay became Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma in 1980.
Judge Seay's dedication to improving his community is evident by his service as President for the Seminole County Bar Association and as a member of the Oklahoma Uniform Criminal Jury Instruction Commission. Furthermore, in 2002, Judge Seay became a member of the United States Judicial Conference, becoming the first Native American to serve on the Conference. The Judicial Conference consists of twenty-seven members who make important policies that regulate the administration of the United States Courts, including plans for the assignment of judges to court of appeals or district courts when necessary.
Judge Seay's notable cases include his decision to uphold as constitutional the Oklahoma Right to Work Law, which allows workers in Oklahoma to have the right to choose whether or not to join a union. His commitment to the federal judiciary persists, as Judge Seay continues his active service on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.
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