A young woman whose career in law has taken her to the district court bench helped Contentnea-Savannah K-8 School teachers reinforce for middle school students their study of the structure of government in America.
Judge Ericka James of the 8th Judicial District engaged in an extended and wide-ranging conversation with more than 300 students in the school’s gym on Friday.
Her visit served as both coda and exclamation point to weeks of classroom instruction about the branches of federal and state governments and their responsibilities under U.S. and state constitutions, according to social studies teacher Jessie Van Cura, who arranged James’ presentation.
In question-and-answer exchanges, the judge and the students touched on the need for independence and parity among the three branches of government, how the judicial branch of government fits into our democracy, what exactly a judge does and why she does it.
Along they way, they also learned why a young woman – a former defense attorney and assistant district attorney – would want to become a judge.
“Who can tell me what a judge does?” James asked the students.
“Put people in jail,” came one answer.
“Help people,” came another.
“Yes, I help people out,” James said. “That’s a really, really good answer. That’s part of the reason I decided I wanted to become a judge. I enjoyed being a prosecutor, I enjoyed being a defense attorney, but I thought if I could be the judge I would have more power and authority to help people. I really thought I could make a difference in my community.”