Honoring Black History: Office of DEIB Feature-Hon. Terrance A. Keith '84

February 12, 2024

Hon. terrance a. keith-ODEIB feature bhmJudge Terrance A. Keith ‘84, a distinguished alumnus and founding-president of the Association of Black Law Alumni (ABLA), is generous with his time and talent in support of Detroit Mercy Law and the legal community. In 1981, on his first day of classes at Detroit Mercy Law, he learned the value of preparation—a lesson that he still uses on the bench today.

“It was my very first day of law school. I sat in the first row of Civil Procedure. It was taught by the Dean, to whom I had spoken with prior, and he told me to be sure to complete the reading assignment. Sure enough, in class, he calls on me and asks me to tell him about the case. I do. He continues to ask me questions, I answer. He asks for definitions. I share definitions. The next thing I knew, it had been 40 minutes of our 90-minute class, where he had been asking me questions directly. I had an answer for every question he threw at me. That taught me the preparation required for law school. It taught me the preparation to be an attorney and to be a judge. I have never and will never forget that.”

Judge Keith joined the Wayne County Probate Court bench in 2010. His docket includes matters of estates, wills, and trusts, guardianships and conservatorships for adults and minors, and mental health treatment. In addition to serving as the founding-president of the ABLA, Judge Keith is recognized as the “Founding Father” and served as the first president of the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association, founded in 1990 to promote legal practice opportunities for lawyers of color in Oakland County. Judge Keith is a past president of the Association of Black Judges of Michigan (ABJM) and serves as the ABJM liaison to the Straker Bar Association and Wolverine Bar Association for the Martin Luther King Drum Major for Justice Debate Competition for Metro Detroit high school students.

As the founding president of the ABLA, Judge Keith helped shaped the mission—to augment the resources of the law school and the legal profession by actively recruiting and mentoring Black law students through scholarships and career networking opportunities. The ABLA also aims to facilitate communication between Black law students, faculty, staff, and the administration and to enrich the legal education experience for Black law students. The ABLA, established in 2019, is the first affiliate of the Detroit Mercy Law Alumni Association. All alumni who support the ABLA’s mission are eligible to join.