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Episode 003 : Judicial Service Careers with Judge Gayle Williams-Byers and Tom Hodson

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Donning judicial robes, taking the bench, and sitting in judgment of others on a daily basis can bring great professional satisfaction but problems may also arise, say two trial judges.
Judge Gayle Williams-Byers, an African-American woman judge in the South Euclid Municipal Court in Ohio and retired/visiting judge Thomas Hodson talk about dedicating part of their careers to service and the upsides of doing that.
Both agree that problem solving in courtrooms can give great personal satisfaction. Helping victims and making sure everyone’s constitutional rights are protected bring feelings of “doing-good” and administering justice.
These types of “service” positions are essential for society and give each judge a personal and professional sense of doing something “positive” with their professional lives. Both feel that what they do – makes a difference in their communities – a positive contribution.
Yet, both face challenges. It is sometimes difficult to make sure that courts are understandable and accessible to the general public. Both work with programs to make courts more approachable.
For example, Judge Williams-Byers livestreams all her court sessions to make what she does transparent to the community.
Both have worked with night courts and weekend courts to make courts more accessible. Also, both make sure that they are not administering “cookie-cutter” justice but tailor outcomes and penalties to meet individual situations.
Both face personal challenges as well. They say that being a judge can often be a lonely position which demands a great degree of social isolation from peers. Being a judge also demands an extreme degree of emotional reserve and control.
Retired-judge Hodson relates how that emotional withdrawal in court can sometimes spill over to one’s personal life causing some difficulties as a spouse or a parent.
Despite any challenges, both judges feel that the benefits of their service outweigh any detriments.