WORKING WOMEN

Working Women: Montgomery County District Court Judge Karla Smith

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Montgomery County has made history, swearing in its first African American female district court judge.

Now, almost seven months into her term, Alison Starling sits down with Judge Karla Smith to get a glimpse into the hectic life of this groundbreaking Working Woman.

"I don't spend my days thinking I'm the first African-American female district court judge," Smith says. "I spend my days thinking how can I be fair, how can I be effective, how can I do my job."

Smith, 43, is now a trailblazer, but when she's not in the courtroom, she's with her husband, their new puppy, or mostly with her three small boys who keep her very busy.

"I think the most important things for working moms is to be able to forgive yourself because you're just not going to be able to do it all," Smith says.


Smith grew up in Maryland, went to UVa. Law School and spent 16 years as a prosecutor, mainly focusing on heart wrenching child abuse cases. She helped criminalize child neglect, creating a law making these cases punishable by up to five years in prison. Speaking for child victims made her very particular about who spends time her children.

"My ten-year-old tells me I'm too over protective," she says. "I don't let him walk down the street to go to a friend's house. I stand outside the door and watch him go down the street."

Smith's father grew up in foster care, something she didn't learn until her 20s. Her mom was a lifelong teacher. Smith's family no doubt lead her to where she is now, but when this new judge looks into the future she hopes her legacy will be strong.

Judge Smith also mentors young girls about job searching, money management and life skills, and she speaks in Montgomery County high schools about healthy relationships, and how to avoid abusive situations.

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