Wayne Law mourns the passing of Judge Marcia G. Cooke, Wayne Law '77 and Florida's first Black female federal judge

Marcia G. Cooke, a former federal magistrate judge in Detroit who eventually became a federal judge in Miami and handled high-profile cases including the infamous “dirty bomber,” died Friday in Detroit after battling health issues in the past year. She was 68.

Cooke graduated from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in 1975 and went on to obtain a law degree from Wayne State University two years later.

Judge Cooke began her career as a staff attorney for Neighborhood Legal Services in Michigan and in 1979 became deputy public defender of the Legal Aid and Defender Association in Michigan.

From 1980 to 1983, Cooke worked as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Detroit and then went to work briefly in private practice. From 1984 to 1992, she worked as a federal magistrate judge in Detroit.

In 1992, she went to work for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami as director of professional development and training and later became executive assistant U.S. Attorney.

She served as chief inspector general for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. After that, in 2002, she worked for two years as an assistant county attorney in Miami-Dade County. In 2004, she was appointed to the bench by Pres. George W. Bush.

By all accounts, Cooke always loved to talk to friends in Detroit to stay abreast of the goings-on in the community.

Close friend, attorney Ron Siegel of Metro Detroit, was heartbroken Friday. He and his wife Caryn Satovsky Siegel were very close with Cooke, who was their son Reid’s godmother. “I am just devastated beyond words over the loss of my dear friend of 40 years (and Reid’s Godmother) Judge Marcia Cooke,” Siegel posted on Facebook Friday night. “After battling cancer and other illnesses over the last year, and making a valiant effort to go to Baltimore to, as she vowed, “dance with my Godson at his wedding,” she lost her battle with that goddamn dreaded disease, and I am so grateful that I got to spend time with her yesterday to tell her that I love her and to feel her squeeze my hand to let me know that she knew I was with her. I hope God has plans for her because he’ll never get anyone better.”

Read Judge Marcia Cooke’s obituary from the South Florida Times.

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