As part of the Blogland's efforts to open up the state's judicial election process for people to see, judicial candidates are invited to answer questions about their background. Thus far, two candidates for this year's judicial elections have taken questions from the Blogland: Family Court candidate Melissa Emery and Circuit Court candidate Maite Murphy.
Now, we’d like for our readers to meet Kelly Pope, who is seeking At-Large Judge seat #1 in the Family Court:
Q - Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I am a graduate of Presbyterian College and the Cumberland School of Law at Sanford University. Prior to attending law school I worked with sexually abused children at the Foothills Rape Crisis Center. I spent the next two years as a child advocate with the Safe Harbor Domestic Abuse Shelter. While working at Safe Harbor I wrote "The Megan Project", which is a date abuse prevention program used by area high schools. I graduated from law school in 2001 and immediately began my career as a trial attorney. My practice consists of family law, criminal law and civil litigation.
Q - Having been through two divorces, we know there’s a lot of money to be made doing what you’re doing. Why give it up to sit on the bench?
I believe that being a judge, particularly a family court judge, is a calling and requires passion. A judge has many roles in a courtroom. One of the most important responsibilities for a family court judge is to protect the interest of children. I have worked through non-profits to advocate for children and being a family court judge would offer a new avenue to continue that passion.
Q - What particular strong points would you bring to this office?
I am determined, hard working and experienced. Being a partner in a small firm has expounded upon the work ethic instilled in me by my parents. As I previously discussed, my experience as a child advocate working with non-profits coupled with my litigation experience I believe are strong points that I would bring to the office.
Q - What issues about our state’s courts concern you the most?
Unfortunately, our state courts are experiencing a backlog in their dockets. Our general assembly has taken a big step with alleviating this issue by approving the funding of more judges. In addition to the backlog issue, I am concerned with the amount of time a child remains in foster care before there is a resolution in their case.
Q - How have your life and/or professional experiences influenced the type of judge you plan to be?
My parents taught me at a young age to work hard, be honest, finish what you start and never give up. I recall being in 7th grade and making the basketball team. I wanted to quit, but my parents wouldn't allow it. I loved playing basketball and still love the game. Growing up I watched my parents work multiple jobs at times to make sure our family had what they needed. My siblings learned from them the value of hard work.
In my professional career I have handled cases in the areas of family law, criminal law and civil litigation. My trial litigation experience as well as my work as a child advocate has provided me with a strong foundation for the bench.