John Edmondson Prim is recognized as the first black judge in the state of Washington. He was also the first black person to serve as deputy prosecuting attorney for King County.
Prim was born to Charles and Sara Prim in Nashville, TN on September 15, 1898. His family relocated to Seattle where his father found employment as a longshoreman. Prim was educated in the Seattle Public Schools and graduate from Franklin High School in 1918. While in high school, he participated in sports and was on the debate team.
After high school, Prim attended the University of Washington. He worked as a waiter at the Butler Hotel in Seattle to help pay for his education. He received a Bachelor of Law Degree in 1927 and was admitted to the bar the same year.
From 1927 until 1943, Prim had his own private law practice when he assumed the responsibilities of his first full time public office as deputy prosecutor of King County. He returned to private practice in 1951. Then, in 1954 he was appointed by Mayor Allan Pomeroy as judge pro tem of Seattle Municipal Court. He was a founder of the Seattle Urban League and was the first African American member of the State Board of Prisons and Parole.