On Friday, Roxana Ramos had her last day at circuit judge John Graham’s office, after interning as a court clerk over the summer. Over the summer, Ramos spent time proofreading, typing orders, meeting with local attorneys, and spending a day at each of the local law firms and seeing all types of court proceedings.
“It was a real privilege to have Ramos with us this summer in Jackson County and an honor to host a Finch Fellow from my alma mater, the University of Alabama School of Law. Ms. Ramos is intelligent, hardworking, intellectually curious and dedicated. She comes from a remarkable and accomplished family. She will be an excellent lawyer and I look forward to seeing her appear before the Scottsboro bench in the future,” Graham said in a statement. “I know that Ramos’ clients will have in her a zealous, well-prepared and intelligent lawyer. These clients, and the future of Alabama’s legal system, will be in safe hands under his leadership.
The internship is another feather in Ramos’ hat, as she seeks to continue living her dream of helping the Hispanic community in the justice system, a dream she has had for more than seven years.
Ramos first knew she wanted to be a lawyer when she was 16. While working in her father’s restaurant and store in Crossville, some would ask her to drive them to court when they couldn’t get there on their own. When she drove those who did not speak English, she also acted as a translator for them. Ramos also never charged for driving or translation, only accepting gas money.
“If they didn’t have the money, I wouldn’t charge them. I just wanted to make sure they got to court and their criminal cases didn’t escalate into something else. I just wanted to make sure they were okay, I just did it to help them,” Ramos said.
As time passed and she drove and translated more, Ramos knew it was her best way to help people, especially in the underrepresented Spanish-speaking community.
“There are a lot of Hispanics in Crossville and I’ve seen the Hispanic and Spanish-speaking community being underrepresented, whether it’s their attorney or law enforcement or in different areas. I used to translate all court proceedings,” Ramos said. “That’s what got me started, being in courthouses, watching traffic court cases and criminal proceedings, translating for people, I realized how grateful they were every time They just felt like I was helping them a lot and I didn’t even think I was doing much, for me it wasn’t a big deal but for them they were so relieved every time I gave them said I could take them.
During his senior year of high school, Ramos drove someone around Polk County, Georgia. The man she was driving was jailed for 30 days for driving without a license. The experience of hearing this man’s case, him trying to tell the judge he was going to buy food and diapers for his baby, being the sole provider in his household and probably losing his job at a chicken factory because of his 30-day sentence was a story that stuck with Ramos.
“It opened my eyes that one little card can dramatically change your life because he was in prison for 30 days serving day after day his life was disrupted. I realized how disruptive it was his family and his life he lost his job, his kids at home had no commute, he was the sole provider, it just blew my mind how that little card, that driver’s license, had so much effect on the life of this family and because they didn’t have one, I’m sure their world was turned upside down.
Looking at different colleges, Ramos only had one law school in mind, the University of Alabama. Ramos had to work hard to get scholarships for both law school and undergraduate school because his parents could not afford his education. Convinced that Alabama was still the place for her, Ramos only applied to Alabama Law School. After working hard to increase her Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) score, she enrolled in the program and was offered a near-full scholarship.
“I knew it was the best law school and I knew I could get the best education there and I wanted to be taught by the best teachers, it was my dream school and my first choice because I didn’t had applied to any other law school. I was very grateful to have entered,” Ramos said.
In 2018, Ramos was one of 31 selected participants in the inaugural class of Alabama Law’s PLUS (Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholars) program, a four-week program introducing participants to the law, with courses in legal writing, d analysis and legal ethics. The program is generally aimed at students one year away from applying to law school from a minority group that is underrepresented in the legal profession.
After entering law school, Ramos decided to study in a hybrid of Crime and Immigration, called “Crimmigration”.
Ramos entered the Finch Fellowship, a program that focuses on law students serving in small towns, interning as a clerk to a judge, giving law students the experience and feel of practicing right in a small town.
Ramos ended up interning over the summer for Judge Graham and instantly became his favorite judge.
“When he came here and I met him, he gave a speech at a luncheon at a local church and he was very welcoming, he gave a long speech about welcoming immigrants and how which he traveled to New York whenever he visited his family. funeral and how he met an immigrant who was very nice to him and drove him everywhere to get to the funeral and I automatically got the feeling that he was very welcoming, treated everyone with respect and I remember having him asked ‘how are you all these people like you’ and he said ‘Well, Roxana, you treat everyone with respect,'” Ramos said.
Generally viewing judges as authority figures who are tough, sit on the bench and stay tough on defendants, Ramos was surprised at how different Graham was from the image she had built in her head of what a judge is all about and what it means. be only.
“To me, how humble he is, knowing how much power he’s sat on the bench and being able to relate to and talk to drug court attendees, he’s like a father figure to a lot of them. I see how much he cares about them, how much time he invests in it, it’s really inspiring,” Ramos said. “I’m really grateful to have been able to have this opportunity and to see this side of things and to see how there is so much more than just convicting an accused or putting them in jail or whatever, that there is so many things he has as a judge in his role of helping people that I could never have seen.
With her summer now over and classes beginning August 17, Ramos is looking to move her experience forward and remains more dedicated than ever to doing her part to help her community in Crossville, remaining grateful for the Finch Scholarship and how it has helped her. . take the right steps towards his goal.
“I have to remind myself everyday to keep pushing and not worry about how long something will take because hard work takes time but it will pay off and the finish line will be there before we do. know,” Ramos said.