James Roth

My Factual Aunt

While I am pleased with the sentiments expressed by Bill Manson in the February 3 article on San Diego’s many outstanding women and their pioneering accomplishments (“Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History,” Cover Story), I was disappointed by some factual errors regarding my aunt, Marie Herney. Instead of “reading for the bar while working as a legal secretary,” as Manson reports, Marie Herney was a graduate of the University of Nebraska School of Law, where she was the only woman in her class. I do not believe she was ever a legal secretary. However, Marie Herney employed Madge Bradley as a legal secretary, who, under Marie’s guidance, studied for and passed the bar. (That may have been the source of the factual confusion.)

Among her other firsts, Marie Herney was the first woman lawyer to be hired by the San Diego County district attorney’s office and was the first woman lawyer from San Diego to be admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. She practiced general law for many years, as a partner with her younger brother Albert (my father) and as a solo practitioner following his death. She was known for her outgoing manner and good humor. There was an amusing story about a courtroom incident printed in the San Diego County Bar Association’s journal DICTA at the time of her death in 1984.

Susan A. Herney
via email

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