Meet The Sisters Who Just Became Judges In Montgomery, Alabama


December 3, 2020

Sister, sister!

Two sisters recently got sworn in as judges in Montgomery, Alabama, the Montgomery Advertiser reports.

Samarria Dunson, 42 and her sister Lloria James, 40, are just 18 months apart. Throughout their lives, they’ve done pretty much everything together. Both graduating from Lee High School, then heading off together to the University of Alabama and then continuing their academic pursuits at the University of Alabama Law School.


While James said things were much easier for her, choosing to follow in her older sister’s footsteps, the two both had their distinct journeys nonetheless. Still, after they graduated and passed the Alabama Bar exam, both sisters returned to their hometown of Montgomery to make a difference in their communities. Both sisters have been elected as judges, Dunson as Montgomery Municipal Court Judge, and James as Circuit Court Judge. 

For James, this is her second time behind the bench, first serving as a municipal court judge in Montgomery from 2012-2015 before returning to the District Attorney’s Office as chief prosecutor. James said she always knew she wanted to be a District Attorney, while Dunson spent her time behind the scenes, focusing on healthcare compliance law. Dunson said she’s been happy not being so visible but said her sister encouraged her to step out there after Mayor Steven Reed proposed that Dunson fill a vacant seat in Municipal Court.

“She pretty much raised my kids while I was on the campaign trail. She was helping with homework and also setting up websites, and pretty much managing my campaign. I was really insistent and excited about her having her time because she really deserves it. She’s brilliant in her own right. She spends a lot of time in the shadows and not stepping out and taking credit where it’s due, so I was really excited for her,” James said of her big sister. 


“And I wasn’t going to do it. Like when I first heard about it, I thought there’s so much going on, but then she really encouraged me. I never expected to be a judge. The whole time I was out standing in the street, holding signs for Lloria, I never thought this would be an opportunity for me,” Dunson said. 

Dunson was sworn in earlier this month, with James waiting to be sworn in at the top of the year. Both sisters credit their parents for their success. Father Sam Munnerlyn, retired president of Trenholm State Community College, helped model a good work ethic, and their mother, Marielle Munnerlyn, former Alabama State University professor, helped show them how to take care of their community.

“He’s got the best work ethic. He’d go to work tired, go to work sick, always be on time, tell the truth,” James told reporters about their father. “Our mom was filled with compassion. It was nothing to take in a student, buy books for a student. Both of them coming together, we’re the result of that, that toughness, hard work and mom’s soft side.”


The two hope to impact their community as judges, on and off the bench, with a particular focus on working with the youth of Montgomery. “I don’t think a lot of our children even know what to dream to be because people like us don’t spend enough time with them. It’s our job as leaders in Montgomery to be in those places, in those spaces where kids, who may not have exposure to different careers or different people, can get that exposure,” James said.

“It doesn’t just help them, but it helps us. It helps Montgomery. If we’re helping to raise the new generation of professionals, then that’s really what it’s about for us,” Dunson added.



Samarria Dunson, left, and sister, Prosecutor Lloria James, right. Photo Courtesy of Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser

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