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Melodee Armstrong, laying down the law in Dallas County, Texas

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Who: Melodee Armstrong

What: Democratic candidate for County Criminal Court #11

Where: Dallas County

What inspires you to show up at work every day? I left home from San Antonio, Texas, at age 17 for Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.  I knew from that day forward, that if I created a bill, I needed to pay for it.   I also wanted God to bless the child that’s got her own and then allow that child to use her talents to change a life, heal a heart or bring a smile.  The life of an attorney and judge is filled with attempting to resolve someone else’s issues. So, each work day, someone depends on me to seek the best solutions for their life. That inspires me to rise and work every day.

What’s next for you?  I am a Democratic candidate for the open seat in Dallas County Criminal Court #11 in the March 4, 2014, primary election. I served the citizens of Dallas and five surrounding counties as a Dallas municipal judge and magistrate for 10 years.  That career allowed me to interact with thousands of citizens and handle criminal cases while representing our great city from a seat of fairness and justice.  In fact, Dallas sends its judges through a rigorous scrubbing every two years before voting to re-appoint them. I was re-appointed four times.

Court 11, which I seek, handles misdemeanor cases from Class A and lower. The subject matter is primarily less serious family violence cases such as assault, interference with a 911 call, violations of protective order, and terroristic threat .

Taxpayers benefit when we first promote safety of victims and citizens. We also benefit when we send offenders to counseling to improve their behavior, and to work or school to enhance their earning potential and thrive while paying their fair share like the rest of us.

I am so committed to serving Dallas County, that I resigned my 10 year judge job in December 2013 to pursue this bench to continue serving you at a higher level.

Describe a life lesson that has had a huge impact on your career decisions? At 10-years-old, my mother died.  My dad was suddenly a single father of five, who sought clues amid darkness and grief on how to move his family forward.  We instantly met crisis and chaos face to face.  We suffered teen pregnancy, jail arrests and other social stigmas.

The experiences of losing my mother, along with trying to leave a legacy that she would be proud of, motivate me daily.

I was inspired to seek a career where I could help others and work with people . My parents met while playing piano and organ at a church. Of the few memories that I have of my mother, she was personable, assertive and a servant leader.   I find that DNA showing up in me as I journey through life.

In 2008, my brother and I co-founded the Beverly Armstrong Scholarship Foundation in honor of my mother.  Since 2008, we have made an annual scholarship award to students who will major in music at the collegiate level.

Name your favorite role models for success? Joan Tarpley (Law) – She is an iconic example of elegance, excellence and intellect. She is the first African American judge in Dallas County and a woman of admirable and true convictions.  She encourages us to pay no regard to those who disregard our essence.  She represents bravery and a commitment to succeed. She is an amazing inspiration.

How/when did you develop an interest in law? I initially wanted to be an actuary.  I met Dr. Uri Treisman from the University of Southern California when he came to my predominantly African American high school in San Antonio, Texas.  He got me so fired up on math, I headed to Dartmouth with dreams of being an actuary.  After a few adjustments resulting from some grades out of some math classes and learning about other career choices, I chose law.  I found that the destination for success has various directions.   Fortunately for me, my math classes sent me to law school.

Describe your favorite vacation spot?  International travel is my “high.” Because I’m on a quest to hit all seven continents by a certain age and to hit all 50 [of the United] states before [age]50, it is tough to name a favorite.  But, Capetown and Johannesburg, South Africa are incredible.

Get out and vote! It’s our responsibility!