Hanif Johnson knows the legal struggles for young people of color. As a teenager, Johnson faced a few brushes with the US judicial system and was even imprisoned on more than one occasion.
When he was a student at Penn State University and the then president of Omega Psi Phi, he was arrested and charged in connection with a hazing incident which resulted in him serving three weeks in jail.
After that experience, he decided to dedicate himself to turning his life around.
He told the Huffington Post, “It’s crazy because I know how it feels sitting across from that judge and that jury when you’re innocent.”
The entire ordeal changed him, for the highest good. He became the youngest elected judge in the State of Pennsylvania, winning the magisterial seat over Republican Claude Phipps by a landslide of 73% in Dauphin County.
Magisterial District Judges are elected by the residents of their district in which they serve. They don’t have to be lawyers but do receive training that equips them to handle legal issues they will encounter while serving on the bench.
Johnson recalls residents reactions to him when he canvased door to door. “They laughed at me in my face,” he said. They said, ‘Boy, if you don’t get away from my house saying you want to be a judge. You are too young!’ But after the fourth or fifth conversation, I would ask them who they are voting for, and they would say me.”
Johnson, a Harrisburg native, coaches track and field at Harrisburg High School.
He began his six-year term in January of 2018 after he decided to run for office because he knew if he wanted things to change, he had to get up and do something.
We’re sure residents aren’t laughing anymore.
blogged by @honeygrip