By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times
Retired Jefferson County Judge Houston L. Brown and Birmingham lawyer J. Mason Davis, Jr. were honored Friday by the Birmingham Bar Association (BBA) for more than four decades of distinguished service in the field of law.
Brown was presented the BBA’s Lifetime Achievement Award and Davis the L. Burton Barnes III Public Service Award. The two men practiced together in the 1970s and into the 1980s at Davis & Brown, which was located in the Masonic Temple Building in the 4th Avenue Historic Business District.
Brown, a Smithfield native, was the first African American to complete his education at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. He practiced as a lawyer until 2000 when he first appointed a judge, and he was elected Jefferson County presiding judge in January 2013 and served until his retirement in June of 2015.
Brown has served on the board of trustees for First Congregational Christian Church in College Hills and the board of Leadership Birmingham. He also helped found the Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation in 2019 to hold an event for Angela Davis at Boutwell Auditorium.
Davis began his career in 1960 and primarily took on Civil Rights cases. In 1963, he was also one of the 23 Black members of the Community Affairs Committee of the City of Birmingham, a group with a significant aim of reducing racial tensions of the era. In 1981, Davis joined Birmingham’s Sirote & Permutt law firm, which is now Dentons Sirote, where he became a partner and is a now a shareholder.
Davis also served as the BBA president from 1984 to 1985, chaired the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce from 2000 to 2001 and chaired the United Way of Central Alabama from 2002 to 2003, among participation in numerous other civic organizations.
Davis was also given a Lifetime Achievement Award in Human and Civil Rights by the NAACP in 2013 and was inducted into the Birmingham Business Hall of Fame in 2016.