Eugene N. Hamilton
The People's Judge
Juvenile delinquency, crime, and violence are the steady diet of the urban magistrate. As chief judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Eugene N. Hamilton has seen his share. But witnessing the outcome of poverty and despair has not jaded him. Quite the opposite. It has fortified his determination to improve the social conditions of those who daily come before his bench.
Both through his judicial rulings and his personal life, Hamilton, a 1955 graduate in political science and a 1959 graduate of UI's Law School, is the people's judge. By day he dispenses justice and upholds the legal system. By night, weekend, and lunch hour, he builds community programs that attack the causes of the problems he handles daily.
Within the court system, he has created a domestic violence unit that focuses on family disturbances. A special juvenile drug court he established addresses the special problems of drug use among youth.
Within the community he has solidified support for programs preventing juvenile delinquency, streamlining adoption, and reducing neglect and abuse in the foster care system. His Urban Services Program aims at reducing juvenile delinquency and involves intensive probation supervision, socialization counseling, job skills training, job placement assistance, and encouragement for completing school. Yet another outreach program arranges internships for students who maintain a specified minimum grade-point average.
What is more, this LAS Achievement Award winner insists that other judges volunteer their time in the community. Given the example Hamilton sets, which carries through in his personal life, it is hard for them to refuse. Hamilton and his wife, Virginia, who is also an LAS graduate, are parents of nine children and foster parents to more than 40. Hamilton is truly the people's judge—he judges by judging not.
By Holly Korab