810. A Day in the Life–What's It Really Like to Be a Judge?
Judge Anne Elizabeth Barnes
“I like to try to be able to predict the way the law is going, should go and not to get in the way of helping the rule of law to work as it should work. Because that’s what it’s about. It’s not about any particular result in any case or set of cases. It’s about our wonderful American legal system and making sure that it works properly so that the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, are all treated fairly and equally under our system.”
Judge Anne Elizabeth Barnes won election in 1998 to the Georgia Court of Appeals and took office January 1, 1999. She was re-elected without opposition to a second term in 2004. In 2010, she was elected to a third term by getting more votes than any other candidate in the state of Georgia. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia in 1983, and her Master of Laws in the Judicial Process from the University of Virginia in 2004.
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“I wasn’t encouraged to run for judge on the Court of Appeals by the powers that be in 1996. I went out to dinner with some friends and the husband of my friend said, ‘Why don’t you go ahead and run anyway.’ And so I did it! Without the backing of anyone in my social group, I qualified and almost won a statewide race with 48.2% of the vote. When there was another open seat available for the Court of Appeals two years later, I ran and I was elected. One thing I always say in my talks to women’s groups, ‘If you don’t run, you definitely will not win.’”
Ideas and Insights When Considering This Career Path
Here are a few basic principles that revolve around training, education and experience that I’d share with anyone considering entering any facet of the law profession.
1. It’s essential that you are a fast reader and that your comprehension skills are equally excellent. The volume of information that a lawyer or judge must deal with every day is immense.
2. Like any profession, the field of law is comprised of myriad roles across many disciplines. Explore as much as possible any aspect of the law that captures your imagination─via internships or by volunteering in organizations or firms that can give you a real-world taste of what it’s really like to do what they do.
3. Research the profession from any and every perspective that you feel drawn to. Read books, watch movies or videos, keep digging and learning. The movies, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Paper Chase are two I highly recommend.
4. Travel, in my experience, is one of the most powerful ways to expand your horizons about the world and about yourself.
On Her Bookshelf
Judging Statutes, by Robert A. Katzmann
Images of Justice: Women in Law, by Trevor Goring
The Law of Judicial Precedent, by Garner et al.
Statutes in Court: The History and Theory of Statutory Interpretation, by William D. Popkin
Connecting With Judge Anne Elizabeth Barnes
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