“The Woman Lawyer”- (via Museum of Ventura County)

by Library Docent Volunteer Andy Ludlum

On July 28, 1924, when motions were called for in the case of the People vs. Jesse Mendoza in Ventura County Superior Court, court watchers were stunned when “a tall and stately woman” stepped inside the bar and answered, “ready for the defendant.” Mary Belle Spencer of Chicago became the first woman to represent a criminal defendant in Ventura County history. And this was no routine trial. It was the trial of man accused of committing one of the most gruesome and brutal murders anyone could remember. Spencer practiced law for decades and relished the attention she drew in legal circles. But despite her accomplishments and failures, she was invariably described in the newspapers as “the woman lawyer.”

Read the story: Museum of Ventura County

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *