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The Honorable J. Franklyn Bourne was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey on March 24, 1917.  As a teenager, Judge Bourne attended Boys High School of Brooklyn and graduated with honors.  After high school, he matriculated to Lincoln University, where he graduated in 1940.  Later that year, Judge Bourne entered Dickinson Law School in Pennsylvania.  Soon thereafter, he left to join the United States Coast Guard, where he served from 1942 to 1945.

In June 1948, Judge Bourne earned his law degree from Howard University School of Law and was admitted to the Maryland Bar that fall.  He opened his first law office in Baltimore, Maryland.  In the early 1950s, Judge Bourne moved his practice to Prince George’s County, Maryland – becoming the first African American attorney with a law office in the County.  In 1957, Judge Bourne partnered with the Honorable James H. Taylor (eventually the first African American judge to serve on the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County) to form a new law firm in Fairmont Heights.

In 1967, Governor Spiro Agnew appointed Judge Bourne, as the first African American to serve as chairman of the Maryland Workmen’s Compensation Commission (now the Worker’s Compensation Commission), a quasi-judicial administrative agency.  In 1970, he was reappointed to that position by then Governor Marvin Mandel.

In July 1971, Governor Mandel appointed Judge Bourne to serve on the newly-created District Court of Maryland.  Judge Bourne was one of the seven original judges selected to serve on the District Court for Prince George’s County, Maryland.

On June 12, 1972, Judge Bourne died after suffering a massive heart attack.   In recognition of his contributions to the practice of law in the State of Maryland, attorneys in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties formed the J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association, Inc. in 1977.   In 1991, the Upper Marlboro courthouse opened with a new District Court wing dedicated to Judge Bourne.

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