From Juvenile Delinquent To Juris Doctor: Woman Keeps Her Promise To The Judge Who Gave Her A Break 12 Years Ago

By Melanie Burney
The Philadelphia Inquirer

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Carmen Day has grit. That is the best way to describe this once lost teenager who has grown into a spectacular woman, a truce force to be reckoned with.


When a Family Court judge gave her a second chance after a brush with the law, Carmen Day promised to return to his courtroom one day, as a lawyer.

Twelve years later, Day is just a semester away from fulfilling her dream. She is a third-year student at Rutgers-Camden Law School and has reunited with Judge Charles Dortch, who adjudicated Day so long ago.

It has been a long journey for Day, 29, of Sicklerville, from the past that nearly landed her behind bars as a teenager. Her time before the judge was a wake-up call to turn her life around and pursue a childhood dream.

“I always wanted to be a lawyer,” Day said during an interview on the Rutgers campus. “I didn’t want to tarnish my record and hurt my chances.”

Born in Camden, Day was raised by her mother and stepfather and her biological father. Her legal troubles began when she enrolled at nearby Pennsauken High school and succumbed to peer pressure from her boyfriend and friends. The once A+ student thought about dropping out of school, but her mother, also named Carmen, refused to allow it.

Day was facing possible jail time when she appeared before Dortch in December 2006. Juvenile records are sealed and Day declined to provide specific details about her case, saying only that she had gone “down the wrong path.”

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