Judge Terri Jamison
Hometown: Welch, WV
Place of Work: Franklin County Court of Common Pleas - Juvenile Branch of Domestic Relations
Tenure at Current Place of Work: 6.5 years
OWIG Involvement: member for 2.5 years
OWIG decided to switch things up a bit with our member feature this month by highlighting someone who actually serves in elected office. The local judicial branch isn’t always at the forefront of people’s minds, but we hope Judge Jamison’s story provides some insight into the kinds of people who serve there.
Judge Jamison has always been around public service. Growing up, her family made it a big part of their lives, enrolling Terri in Girl Scouts and taking her and her siblings to do service for senior citizens and others less fortunate. “It’s part of who I am,” Terri says, even to this day. She lives by the Marian Wright Edelman quote: “Service is the rent we pay for being.”
But there was another significant force that impacted Terri’s life as a young girl: the beginning of U.S. Supreme Court mandated busing as a result of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. Experiencing this firsthand as a school girl who was bussed, Terri learned very early in life the power of the court. Years later as a practicing attorney, when she was able to fully comprehend the reality of her historic experience, she began noticing who actually sat on the judicial bench. She realized there weren’t nearly enough judges who represented people like her. In the courtrooms she worked in, she was often the only person of color and, sometimes, also the only woman. “Diversity is important to the judiciary,” Terri says, especially since she views that branch of government as a venue ‘to give a voice to the unheard.’ “You have the right to be heard even when the law is not favorable to your side of the case. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect as their case is important to them,” she says.
This opportunity to give people the chance to prove themselves is why Judge Jamison so deeply loves what she does. As she describes it: “I have the opportunity to give confidence to the community that they will be treated equitably. I can apply the universal principles of the law to give each individual a well-reasoned ruling.” Despite the foundation of equity that the judicial branch is built on however, Terri does notice that women in her field - as they are in most fields - are held to a different standard than men. She sees women being questioned more with respect to their actions and abilities. And the campaign side has its own set of challenges, according to Judge Jamison; she has found that being a female candidate makes it harder to raise money.
So how does she keep going when the going gets tough? “I am a driven individual,” says Terri. “I write down things that I want to achieve...and I don’t stop until I do what I have in mind to do.” She encourages fellow OWIG members to live by their own personal definition of success, while always respecting those who endured challenges to make things better for today’s people. We know Judge Jamison is that person for many people; a trailblazer herself, Terri was one of the first women to be hired by U.S. Steel as an underground coal miner! Our sincere thanks for everything you do and have done for the Franklin County community, Terri!