DIVERSE LIFE EXPERIENCE
I live in Sierra Vista with my husband, Chris Russell and my 8 year-old daughter, Valyn, both of whom are the light of my life.
Valyn is about to start the third grade at First Baptist Christian Academy and is learning to play the piano. She loves animals and wants to rescue every wayward animal she sees.
As with most full time working moms, I struggle to maintain a work life balance. It is difficult at times, and I have an endless supply of “bad mom” joke material, but somehow I manage to get it all done.
As a family, we enjoy spending quality time together doing any number of things including camping, hiking, fishing, sight seeing, and occasional trips to the beach. We also enjoy attending local events here in Cochise County and supporting our local charities.
I am one of four children. My father was a truck driver and my mother stayed at home to raise us. We did not have a lot of money when I was growing up. College was not something that was discussed except that my father always said that he “could not afford to pay for us all to go to college so he would not be paying for any of us to go to college.”
As a kid, I did not dream of going to college or have any aspirations to become any particular profession. To this girl, whose first job was milking 268 dairy cows twice a day, college seemed out of reach.
But when I found myself a single mother at the age of 17, it became apparent to me that I needed an education if I ever hoped to be able to provide any kind of life for myself, and my daughter, Madeleine.
I began taking courses at a local community college and worked several jobs to help pay my tuition. Although my family could not provide much financial support, my parents and siblings all pitched in and assisted me in other ways such as babysitting or keeping my old junk cars running.
I later transferred to the University of Akron where, after nearly five long hard years, I finally graduated with a dual BS Degree in Biology and Medical Technology and a minor in Chemistry. My hope was to eventually go to medical school.
But my plans all changed when my daughter, Madeleine, age 7, was killed in an accident. This traumatic event devastated me emotionally and financially. I was incapable of functioning for over a year and, frankly, my life has never been the same. Had it not been for wonderful family and friends, I would have been homeless.
The legal issues surrounding my daughter’s death prompted me to become very interested in the law. What I learned from my experience is that most people are just an accident away from bankruptcy. I decided that I wanted to become a lawyer to help people who had suffered injuries and losses as a result of accidents.
I was accepted to the University of Georgia School of Law. I worked full time at Athens Regional Hospital on the night shift, while I attended law school during the day. Despite having to work 30 hours or more per week, I managed to graduate from law school with honors.
Since that time, I have gone on to represent countless clients in personal injury cases and many other areas of the law. I have been in front of a lot of judges, many good and many bad. I can tell you from experience, there is nothing worse than being in front of a judge who does not know the law or who does not have a sincere desire to ensure that his or her decisions are legally correct. Parties to court proceedings only get one chance in court otherwise known as “one bite of the apple”. This refers to the rule of law that once a judge rules in your case, the ruling is final and you cannot come back a month or a year later and ask the Court to change its mind. Your only option if you do not like a Court’s decision is an expensive and costly appeal, which most people cannot afford. Thus, justice depends upon a Judge who is intent on getting it right the first time. I promise that if I am elected to Judge, I will be driven by my deep desire to make the right and just decision the first time so that you do not have to endure a costly appeal.
From my experience in observing judges in the court room I have identified the following three common denominators in good judges: 1) ability to listen, free from bias, 2) broad knowledge of the law, and 3) diverse life experience. As voters, you should be looking for a lawyer with the right education, diverse life experience and diverse professional experience. I am that person.
My education, life experience and versatile professional experience has prepared me for the role of Superior Court Judge and sets me apart from my opponents, who have limited legal experience. If you elect me Judge, I promise to listen to all sides, free from bias, and to faithfully exercise common sense in applying the law.