BLACK HISTORY: In 2020, Clayton native elected first African American female City Court Judge of Baton Rouge

Published 11:15 am Wednesday, February 22, 2023

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Johnell Mosby Matthews, a native of Clayton, Louisiana and a graduate of the former Sevier High School of Ferriday, Louisiana, was elected judge on the Baton Rouge City Court on August 20, 2020, in a run-off election where she received 63% of the votes throughout the city of Baton Rouge. She was the first African American female elected to this city-wide position.

Prior to this momentous occasion, she practiced law in Louisiana and in Mississippi, at Matthews & Matthews Law, with a focus on personal injury, wills, will contests, successions, and family matters.

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While growing up in Clayton, Louisiana, Judge Matthews dreamed of going to college and making a positive difference in her life that would benefit others. She was a first generation college graduate, and she accomplished her goals in life because she did not quit. She firmly believes that the road one travels may be rough, but one must keep going and never give up.  We are the sum total of all of our experiences is her life’s mantra; and her journey is evidence that dreams and goals lead to successful endeavors.

Judge Matthews attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in French and in English with a minor in Spanish, in 1972.  After graduation, she was awarded a French Government Scholarship to study French for an academic year at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France.

In 1976, she obtained a Master’s Degree, in French Language and Literature from Louisiana State University.  Her solid educational experiences have formed the foundation of her life’s mission to serve others.

She served 20 years in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System as a teacher of French and English, as Supervisor of Foreign Languages for East Baton Rouge Parish,  K-12, and as Assistant Principal in middle and high school.  Continuing to reimagine her role as an agent of change, she enrolled in Southern University Law Center where she earned her Juris Doctor degree in 2001.

Her professional and community associations include: Louisiana Bar Association, Mississippi Bar Association, Louisiana City Judges Association, Louisiana Judicial Council/NBA, American Judges Association, and Volunteers in Public Schools board member.

Judge Matthews was raised by her maternal grandmother, Mrs. Pearl Mosby, to whom she is eternally grateful.  She is married to attorney Johnnie Matthews, of Ferriday, Louisiana, and they have three adult children and ten grandchildren.