After practicing law for 17 years, she’s entered the May 18 primary as a candidate for Judge on the Court of Common Pleas.
Tamika Washington moved from New York for law school and fell in love with Philadelphia her first week here. After practicing law for 17 years, she’s entered the May 18 primary as a candidate for Judge on the Court of Common Pleas.
Pennsylvania is one of the few states to hold off-year elections. This year, there are eight openings for Common Pleas judges, and additional elections for statewide appellate positions. (A bill has been introduced in Harrisburg to elect appellate judges by county, though cases would still be distributed statewide.)
Washington describes 2020 as “The Great Equalizer.”
“We have a different perspective than we might have had in 2019,” she said. “While candidates for judge must not be activists, we have to understand people when they come in and put away our implicit biases.”
Her campaign site (washington4judge.com) states “the purpose of rules and regulations is to improve people’s lives.”
During her service as a Philadelphia Assistant City Solicitor, Washington litigated cases about the physical and mental well-being of children and their families. She was named to the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania’s Pro Bono Roll of Honor. She’s worked with local unions on collective bargaining agreements, served on the board of My Place Germantown, a non-profit organization providing permanent housing for the disabled homeless, and cofounded the Legal Ministry at Sharon Baptist Church.
Washington has run her own practice for 12 years. Recently she’s concentrated more on appellate work, employment, and probate. A change came in 2010 when she took on a pro bono case for a woman who had lost her home through deed forgery. Probate became a large part of her practice.
“It sparked that fire that led to me eventually take on cases for people in similar circumstances,” she said.
A complex and contradictory system has caused Philadelphia residents problems with inheritance and transferring deeds, including a number of property theft by deed forgery cases in recent years.
“I saw that many attorneys do not understand this area,” Washington said. “They’ll handle the probate, setting up an estate, but they wouldn’t know what to do with the deed fraud.”
In October the city launched a pilot program, the Probate Deferment Initiative, to connect residents with pro bono legal assistance.
Washington said she is running for Common Pleas because it encompasses all the issues she’s been involved in: Juvenile, probate, civil, even criminal.
“I have been able to understand the range of emotions people have when they enter a courtroom,” she said. “Most people enter a courtroom and have no idea what to do.”
She decided this was the time to run because she felt too many people were not being taken seriously in court.
“What is needed in being a judge is understanding that you have to put yourself on the backburner…you have to have the humility to listen to people when they come in.”
She said her priority is to “address the culture of nepotism, mistrust, and racial tension in the courts, and to ensure that everyone who appears before me is confident I will administer justice fairly.”
Washington, her husband Charles and their three sons live in Mt. Airy.
“I came here from New York, and I fell in love with the city. I met my husband here, we had our children here, we joined a place of worship here. It has been a journey of love and of service for the last 20 years.”