Meet Shanta Owens and Shera Grant, Alabama’s first twins to serve on the bench together.
Both Birmingham natives are Alabama State University graduates. Both attended Louisiana State University’s law school and graduated with honors. While Grant proceeded to law school in Atlanta while Owens returned to Birmingham, both ended up working as prosecutors.
Shera is in charge of civil concerns.
“I run something similar to the ‘People’s Court,” Shera explained, “people are suing their friends, their grandparents…”
Shanta is the judge of a drug court.
“I get an opportunity to really help a lot of people who are afflicted with drug addiction,” Shanta added.
Shanta Owens and Shera Grant, identical twins, started thinking about being lawyers when they were in elementary school.
“We’ve always had the gift of gab,” Shanta recalls, adding that their mother, a librarian at the Birmingham Public Library, fostered in them a passion for studying, reading, and learning from a young age.
The sisters began their search for the proper law school after graduating from high school and completing their undergraduate degrees from Alabama State University in 1999. The self-described best friends, who regularly finish each other’s sentences, say finding a decent law school where they could pursue their common passion was their top priority.
They chose LSU Law because it provided them with a comprehensive, hands-on legal education that prepared them for immediate success after graduation.
“LSU Law was a wonderful school that really prepared us for the rigors of the legal profession,” says Shanta, “and there wasn’t any doubt that we would pass the bar exam on the first try.”
The sisters were active members of the Black Law Students Association, Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity, and Unification of Diversity Under the Law, an organization whose mission was to unite diverse cultures through legal awareness and activities, while at LSU Law. They participated in the Summer Program in Aix-En-Provence, France, and were active members of the Black Law Students Association, Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity, and Unification of Diversity Under the Law.
Loretta Bitten, a single mother who has worked as a librarian at the Birmingham Library since they were 9 years old, raised Owens and Grant. Their father had passed away when they were just five years old, and their mother was rigorous but affectionate. According to the girls, they were continuously told that they needed to read.
“We grew up reading,” Owens said.
It’s possible that identical twins on the bench in Jefferson County are a first.
“I checked with several of our tenured members, and we are not aware of identical twins sitting simultaneously on Jefferson County’s District or Circuit courts,” said Bo Landrum, executive director of the Birmingham Bar Association. “There is, of course, the husband and wife team of Judges Eugene and Annetta Verin on the Circuit Court in Bessemer, and brothers Tom (Circuit civil) and Alan King (probate judge) serving simultaneously … in Birmingham, but identical twins on the bench at the same time may be a first for Birmingham.”
“To see them accomplish the things that they have accomplished, and work as hard as they have, I am super proud,” their mom expressed.
In 2008, Shanta, who is four minutes older, was elected as a judge. Shera was appointed to the bench in 2016.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Shera added, “and I’ll tell you, we eat lunch together just about every day.”