Can a Woman


I have been crushed with work lately. So when I called the courthouse yesterday to confirm that Maria’s Girl Scout troop could still meet with a female judge during our tour that afternoon and was told “not sure,” I was ready for my head to spin around 100 times and my mouth to spit out fire. I expressed (in a cordial, polite manner, of course) how important it was for these girls to see a female judge and hung up the phone confident that it would happen.

And it did.

Maria and her troop of 7 and 8 year old girls met Judge Kim Brown. Before that though, they walked through a metal detector, which may have provided the most fun of the entire trip ( actually, it was probably second to the tunnel walk).

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Before meeting the Judge, the girls visited the jury room. We talked about what a jury does and asked them if their parents had been jurors. However, all of our questions fell on deaf ears. The girls were more intrigued with the giant tvs. The first question posed: “what movies do jurors get to watch?” That question prompted a series of discussions amongst the girls about movies they loved and had recently seen. Not quite the captive audience I wanted.

After checking out the vending machines and bathroom (with a shower!), we headed to Judge Brown’s courtroom. The girls’ mouths dropped as they entered. Questions bounced all over – “who sits at the tables”, “does the judge use her gavel”, where does the jury sit”?

Surprisingly, all the chatter ceased when Judge Brown entered the room. It’s as if they innately knew to be quiet (either future lawyers or they are going to be respectful defendants one day).

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Judge Brown talked with them about running for judge and about using her gavel and about the cases she hears. They sat and listened taking glances over at the juror box and up at her bench. All of those little minds taking in the atmosphere. I was hoping the presentation would have been a little more kid-friendly but I think the girls would have taken away what they ended up taking away all the same. And that is that they can choose whatever path calls to them. They’ve got a great big, exciting world in front of them and it’s theirs to gulp up. If Ri takes away one nugget from the trip, I hope it is that.

We ended our time with the Judge by singing her a song titled appropriately “Can a Woman.” The girls belted it out so that any one in the courthouse could hear.

I stood across from the girls to videotape them and wanted to shout “Amen” with every “Yes I Can” they sang. I wanted to hoist every one of them on my shoulders and reinforce that the sky is the limit. The power and confidence in that courtroom during that song was palpable and I will work like mad to keep it that way as Ri moves into pre-teen and teen years. Those girls will struggle together, laugh together, yell together over their school years like all of us remember doing with our girlfriends. And when they need a boost, I just hope they remember the confidence they exuded when they sang this song together.

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