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Judge Karen Mills-Francis
- Black History
- Women in Society
- Florida, United States
Judge Karen Mills-Francis is a television personality and published author with a colorful and engaging style that is as distinctive as her bold burgundy robe and her bright blonde hair. As quick to aid the helpless as she is to dismiss the hare-brained, Judge Karen confidently dishes out justice before a television audience with her nationally syndicated courtroom series, "Judge Karen's Court". With the same compassion and razor-sharp wit she brings to the bench, the retired Florida state court judge and star of TV's syndicated show Judge Karen's Court has written a newly released book guaranteed to inspire, delight, and motivate. In "Stay in Your Lane: Judge Karen's Guide to Living Your Best Life" , the judge draws from personal experience and her courtroom cases to deliver no-nonsense advise to push the reader in a positive direction -socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. As Judge Karen states, "I'm not the Wizard of Oz, but he and I certainly share one thing in common: We both know that we already have within us the power to find our direction to a healthier and happier life experience.
Born and raised in Miami, FL Judge Karen was the oldest of five ambitious children and she graduated as the valedictorian of her high school class. Judge Karen completed her undergraduate education at the prestigious Bowdoin College in Maine on a full scholarship and she spent summers studying at the University of Wisconsin and University of Minnesota. After graduation, she worked in the public welfare sector training and helping welfare recipients to gain employment. She graduated from the Levin School of Law at the University of Florida in 1987.
Judge Karen practiced criminal defense law in Miami for 13 years in the Office of the Public Defender, as well as in private practice. She was appointed a Traffic Magistrate by the chief judge of the county in 1998 to hear non-criminal traffic cases. She also became a certified family court mediator. Driven by the lack of diversity in the court system, Judge Karen decided to run for a judgeship in 2000, winning her first election by overthrowing a longtime incumbent and becoming the second black woman to serve on the bench in Miami-Dade County.
After twice being elected as a county court judge, Judge Karen made it her mission to support those who are at risk of getting lost in the legal system. Her mission has always been to empower women and provide direction and inspiration to our children. Inspired by her previous work at the public defender's office in the juvenile division, she has become known as an ardent backer of children's advocacy programs and domestic violence prevention programs and regularly calls on lawyers to act on behalf of children in crisis. She became a foster mother herself to a child she first encountered in court and over the years she has repeatedly opened her home to children in need. Judge Karen is an avid child advocate who profiles missing children on her Facebook page. She lectures around the country on family issues, specifically concerns of women and children.