The Dominican lawyer Gladys Weatherspoon could become the first Latina judge in Prince George’s County in the state of Maryland on November 3, a feat that was thought “impossible”, but is increasingly close to reality.
Weatherspoon seeks to be one of the five judges on the Prince George’s Circuit Court, a body that deals with family, minor and criminal matters.
The candidate surprised in the Democratic primaries by winning her pass for the General Election, ranking fourth for five places on Circuit Court.
The candidates in the primary were seven, five of them, the acting judges, who sought ratification with the popular vote.
“Nobody gave credit for my campaign and I was able to win without political support. I know that this is the first battle and that the November general elections are still missing, where I hope to win as well, “said Weatherspoon at the time, noting that she is not a politician, but” I have a great commitment to our community, so that I launched myself into this candidacy ”.
Weatherspoon fought a David and Goliath-style contest, and now he has higher hopes.
“The chances that Weatherspoon would pass [Elecciones] Generals were few because he was facing five judges in function who ran as a single block, “said Prince George’s councilor, Deni Taveras. “So his victory was historic, although he still has to face the hardest part,” he added.
Challenge and hope
The 55-year-old Weatherspoon won the Democratic primary, but the Generals loomed big setbacks as he again faced the established five-judge bloc. However, one of them, Byron Bereano, withdrew from the general contest, opening a door of greater opportunity for the candidate.
In total there are six applicants contesting the five positions in Circuit Court.
The four acting judges went through a qualification and selection process. The governor nominated them and the State Senate confirmed them, but by law voters have to ratify them. The established judges are: Wytonja Curry, Cathy Serrette, ShaRon Grayson Kelsey and Jared McCarthy. The independent candidates are Gladys Weatherspoon and April Demiluyi.
Respaldo de The Washingon Post
Two weeks ago the influential Washington Post endorsed Weatherspoon, recommending voters to elect her alongside the four other judges already serving in the county and seeking to be ratified by popular vote.
“We urge you to vote for the acting justices: Wytonja Curry, Cathy Serrette, ShaRon M. Grayson Kelsey and Jared McCarthy. We also believe that Gladys Weatherspoon, a criminal defense attorney for more than 25 years, would be a welcome addition to the court, ”TWP posted.
“I have high hopes of being able to win and I am very happy that the Post has given me its ‘endorsement’,” said the candidate to El Tiempo Latino, on Tuesday, October 20.
Importance of having a Latino judge
There are 23 judges in Prince George’s County, but none of them are Hispanic. “Latinos are a large percentage of the county’s population but we are not represented in the courts,” said Maryland State Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk, who supported Weatherspoon’s candidacy.
“Gladys has a very good chance of becoming a judge. And that would be something historic and a great gain for our Latino community, ”said Peña-Melnyk, a Democrat who represents District 2 at Prince George’s.
Hispanics at Prince George’s represent 19% of the general population. They are approximately 180 thousand of the more than 900 thousand inhabitants.
Weatherspoon explains the importance of the position from her experience of more than 25 years as a public defender.
“Our community needs judges who can understand the culture and needs of populations of color. What I have seen very often during my years of practice is that many times Latinos who do not speak English appear in court with attorneys who do not communicate in their language and very commonly plead guilty for not going to jail. And in the end that’s worse, ”said Weatherspoon, who has been a public defender for 10 years, as well as head of the Major Crimes Division. “The prisons are overflowing with people who shouldn’t be there.”
The Circuit Court resolves family and juvenile cases. As well as civil and criminal cases.
They urge Latinos to vote
Weatherspoon held a virtual fundraising event the previous Friday. “We did well. There were many people who supported my campaign, ”he said.
The candidate called on the Latino voters of Prince George’s to vote in her favor. “Vote, by mail or in person; but vote ”, he asked.
Thousands have already started to vote in absentia, via postal mail or by depositing the envelope with their ballot in special mailboxes.
Starting this Monday, October 26, Maryland voters can go to one of the more than 80 early voting centers to cast their vote, from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm. Election officials warn that the ranks could be quite large.