David B. Lewis, vice-presiding judge for the Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma, will be the keynote speaker during Black History Month festivities at 10 a.m. Feb. 23 in the Ataloa Theatre of East Central University’s Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center.
The event will feature a panel which also includes ECU alums Dr. Jimmy Scales and Dr. Donnie Nero, along with other former and current ECU students. The event is free and everyone is welcome.
Lewis has been serving as vice-presiding judge for the Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma since January 2017. He has been with the Court of Criminal Appeals since 2005, as he has had one stint as presiding judge and two as judge. He was the first African American in the state to serve as presiding judge.
He had previously served as special judge and judge for the Oklahoma District Court from 1991-2005. He was also assistant district attorney for Comanche County (1987-91) and was a private practice attorney in Lawton from 1984-87.
Lewis is a 1976 graduate of Ardmore High School. He then attended the University of Oklahoma, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics four years before attending OU’s Law School and graduating in 1983.
He has received numerous awards and other public recognition over the years for his dedicated service to the legal community and the public. Elected by his peers, he served as president of the Oklahoma Judicial Conference in 2004. In 2008, he was chosen as a fellow for the Henry Toll Fellowship Program of the Council of State Governments, a leadership development program for state government officials.
Lewis has served as board chairman of Reach Out and Read Oklahoma. He also has served on the Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission, the Goodwill Industries of Lawton board of directors, the Lawton Chamber of Commerce board of directors, the Black Achievers Program board of directors, the Oklahoma Bar Association Professionalism Committee and the Oklahoma Bar Association National Mock Trial Task Force.
Scales received a distinguished alumnus award from ECU in 2006 and spent years as an educator, coach and principal in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. He also held positions as superintendent in school districts in Texas and Tennessee. He graduated from ECU in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in history and physical education. He then earned a master’s degree in education from ECU in 1969 and obtained a doctorate of philosophy in education from the University of Tulsa in 1991.
A 1971 ECU graduate of ECU, Nero is also a distinguished alumnus of the university. He is also president emeritus of Connors State College. He became the first African American president of a predominantly white college or university in the state of Oklahoma when he assumed leadership of the Warner campus in 2000. Nero was named to ECU’s Gene and Evelyn Keefer Educator’s Hall of Fame in 2010. He was also inducted into the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame.