As the first woman elected to the New Orleans Criminal District Court, Miriam Waltzer fought for the civil rights of minorities, children, and women. Waltzer was 22 when she married civil rights lawyer Bruce Waltzer and immigrated to the US, and her experiences in Germany shaped her perspective on racism in the American South and drew her to a career in law. It was a difficult time to enter the profession: Waltzer’s law school class had only five women, and New Orleans Parish had only male jurors until 1974. First elected to the criminal district court in 1982, she moved to the court of appeals in 1992. From the bench, Waltzer created innovative programs to educate juvenile offenders instead of sending them to prison. She wrote opinions and dissents that provided for the welfare of youth victims, forced male judges to honor federal child support requirements, and conducted a statewide survey on the treatment of women in the courts, revealing widespread discrimination against female lawyers and expert witnesses. She retired in 2002 and relocated to Dallas during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. As of 2015 Waltzer serves as a volunteer educator, working with children.
Miriam Waltzer was honored at the 2005 Women Who Dared event in New Orleans.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Miriam Waltzer." (Viewed on March 24, 2023) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/waltzer-miriam>.