Earlier this year, the Damsels learned about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and were inspired to learn more about how to become a judge. This fall, the group was fortunate enough to be invited to visit Judge Anita Crawford-Willis in her courtroom. She was incredibly welcoming and generous with her time. The girls (and their parents) had a great afternoon and we all left knowing much more about the workings of a courtroom and the path to becoming a judge.
After a round of introductions, Judge Crawford-Willis showed the group her chambers and talked a bit about the other people involved in the court. On the way to her courtroom, they met a bailiff, court reporters, a communications manager and some of the other Judges. Judge Kimi Kondo shared a story about meeting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2012 during a visit to the Supreme Court.
During the course of the visit, Judge Crawford-Willis answered many question from the group. Here are some of the highlights with her responses summarized:
Do you use a gavel? No, the bailiff keeps the courtroom in order
Why are there three doors? One is for the jury, one for the Judge and one for defendants in custody
Is this your own courtroom? Yes, all of the Municipal Judges have assigned courtrooms
Are there cases you like more than others? Trials are very interesting and take a lot of preparation
How long are trials? They be as short as 2 days and as long as 3 weeks
What kind of punishment do you assign? The longest sentence is jail for 1 year. She talked about fair sentencing and how she looks at the defendant’s life situation as well as the crime. Her main sentencing goal is to help people avoid getting in trouble again.
What is your favorite part of being a Judge? Doing what I’m doing right now – talking to and mentoring young women. She gets to make a difference in the lives of people who visit her courtroom (she doesn’t want them to come back!). She also loves getting to perform weddings and had actually presided over one that morning.
What made you want to be a Judge? She wanted to be a lawyer first after watching a trial as a child. She knew she wanted to help people and became the first in her family to graduate college. Next, she went to law school and wanted to be a lawyer for people who couldn’t afford representation. A Judge pulled her aside and told her that she was a great attorney and would make a great Judge. This gave her the confidence to become a judge.
Over all, the visit was fun, informative and above all inspiring. Judge Anita Crawford-Willis may very well have started a future judge on her way during this visit.