Black L.A., 1947: ‘Why Do 14-Year-Old Girls Get Drunk and Fall Into Bed With Men?’ Judge Asks

Feb. 13, 1947, Flora Washington

The Sentinel runs a publicity photo of Flora Washington, who released “Broken Hearted” and “If I Ever Cry, You’ll Never Know” on the United Artist label in 1946.

Flora Washington sings “Broken Hearted” via


Feb. 13, 1947: Municipal Court Judge Edwin L. Jefferson calls for an investigation of “why 13- and 14-year-old girls get drunk and fall into bed with men” in a hearing for a 20-year-old man who was accused of having sex with a 15-year-old niece.

Jefferson was the first black judge in the Western United States, according to 1989 obituaries in the Sentinel and the Los Angeles Times.

His obituaries said that he was a USC graduate who passed the California bar in 1931, but protested when he was not asked to join the Los Angeles County Bar Assn. Invited to the group 10 years later when he became a judge, he said, “Hell no, I wouldn’t belong to the goddamned thing.”

Jefferson’s appointment to the Superior Court in Long Beach in 1949 brought a protest from head of the local bar association, a Southerner who said: “My grandfather would turn over in his grave if I had to say ‘your honor’ to a Negro,” the obituaries said. Jefferson replied: “Tell him I don’t want to try any of his cases because my grandfather would turn over in his grave.”

Jefferson was appointed to the 2nd District Court of Appeals in 1961 and was California’s only black appellate justice until his retirement. He was replaced by a brother, Judge Bernard Jefferson.


Feb. 13, 1947, Judge Flays Morals of Teen Age Girl Edwin L. Jefferson 1941

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1947, African Americans, Crime and Courts, Music, Obituaries and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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