Fictional Attorney of the Month: J.J. Ford

Josie-Jo Ford was the first African-American and the first woman elected to a judicial position in Wisconsin. A judge on the state court of appeals, she's one of the many possible heirs to the estate of Samuel Westing, whose death spurs the mystery at the heart of the novel The Westing Game.

Judge Ford is calculating and rational, everything a good judge ought to be. She does concede a weakness--her perpetual inability to defeat Samuel Westing at a game of chess while he was alive. He always managed stay one step ahead, out-maneuvering her and striking her in a blind spot for each game.

Judge Ford had long ago decided to stop smiling, finding it "demeaning" to smile with no good reason--"A serious face put the smiler on the defensive, a rare smile put a nervous witness at ease." And the Westing game culminates with a kind of trial near the end of the novel, but of a bizarre sort at the prompting of the young heroine Turtle:

Judge Ford rapped for silence with the walnut gavel presented to her by her associates on her appointment to a higher court. Higher court? This was the lowest court she had ever presided at: a thirteen-year-old lawyer, a court stenographer who records in Polish, and the judge in African robes. Oh well, she had played Sam Westing's game, now she would play Turtle's game.

The epilogue reveals that Judge Ford would elevated to the federal court of appeals and ultimately the United States Supreme Court. And while two other lawyers do make appearances (perhaps for later discussion), J.J. Ford is this month's Fictional Attorney of the Month.