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Cleo E. Powell Biography
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The Honorable Cleo E. Powell


Justice, Supreme Court of Virginia

Cleo Elaine Powell is a justice on the Virginia Supreme Court. She was elected by the Virginia Legislature in July 2011. Her term expires in 2023. Justice Powell is the first black female to serve on the high court. Justice Powell earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in 1979 and her J.D. from University of Virginia School of Law in 1982. She began her legal career in private practice. From 1986 to 1989, she served as an assistant attorney general for the state. She left the public sector to work as corporate counsel and director of Employee Services for Virginia Power. In 1993, Justice Powell joined the 12th Judicial Circuit, serving as a general district and circuit judge in Chesterfield County. Eight years later she was elected to the Virginia Court of Appeals in 2008. In 2011, the Virginia Legislature elected her to the Virginia Supreme Court. On each court Justice Powell has served, she has been the first African-American female to do so.

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