2022 Alum Campaigns to Become Juvenile District Court Judge - University of Houston
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Alum Campaigns to Become Juvenile District Court Judge


February 10, 2022

(HOUSTON, TX) - Glenda Duru (MSW '12) is campaigning to be elected as the Harris County 313th Juvenile District Court Judge. 

We caught up with Glenda to get her perspective on why local elections like hers are critical to social work values. We also gleaned more insight into how her background in law and social work has informed her career trajectory.


Name: Glenda Duru
Pronouns: she/hers
Graduation from the GCSW:
MSW 2012

Congrats on your current campaign for Juvenile District Court Judge. What made you decide to run for this position?

I am ecstatically running for judge because I have a passion for children, youth, and families. I believe that Harris County needs representation in the judiciary, particularly in the juvenile courts, and there is a need for change in the 313th District Court. The difference I seek to bring will balance fairness, impartiality, and the protection of the community.

Your background is in law and social work. This educational background is a combination that we see often. Why do you believe these two areas go well together, and how has your social work background informed your law practice?

I believe social work, whether macro or micro, is centered around advocating and empowering communities and individuals in a way that would promote social change. However, we as social change agents often quickly realize that some laws and systems prevent the success of communities and individuals. The practice of law is also one of advocacy. The lawyer advocates for change in the law or systemic procedure that could likely hinder change. A clear understanding of how the legal system works from a procedural and practical standpoint coupled with an in-depth knowledge of human behavior and how laws and procedures impact communities' social, mental, economic success, and wellness is pivotal to social equity. The marriage between law and social work is nearly perfect because it accesses and assesses every area of society and social well-being.

Personally, my social work background was the pathway for me to explore my passion for children and families by practicing child welfare/child protection law. I use my social work skills every day when evaluating cases, determining the child's best interest, assessing family reunification, and advocating for my clients. Again, the law has allowed me to support and advocate for my clients when systems and laws may create barriers to self-empowerment and social change. 

There are a lot of systemic issues that plague the judicial system. These issues are often tied to race and class. Why do you believe these issues exist, and how do you think social workers and those who work within the legal systems can address and remedy these issues? 

Wow! What an important question. I believe these issues exist due to a lack of representation and access to justice. In juvenile justice and child welfare law, teens and families of color lack representation and access to justice due to financial resources that constrain their ability to afford and participate in juvenile delinquency or child protection matters. 

Our judiciary is supposed to be fair and impartial. Still, there are courts where implicit or explicit biases are very present, and it speaks to a lack of cultural awareness and cultural sensitivity. The road to changing the hearts of man is long and rigorous, so I believe representation is the quickest way to remedy these issues. It is so important to have social workers, lawyers, judges, law clerks, jurors, and even bailiffs who represent the community. They are likely to have a unique cultural perspective and background that would enable them to fulfill their duties to the court without implicit biases impacting decision-making that would not create disparity. 

The GCSW aims to achieve social justice at every level. Why is it essential for us to pay closer attention to local elections, and how do these elections impact social justice? 

I believe as a community, we often focus more on national elections, thinking that a president or congressperson and their decisions have more of an impact on our lives. Although these political roles are critical to our democracy, the most significant sociopolitical impact is from local government and district and state court. The types of people we elect to the judiciary, legislature, and executive branch of our state directly and quickly impact our lives. Even city council members, school board members, and mayors pass ordinances and policies that would significantly enhance or complicate our lives. Therefore, it is essential to participate in local elections, learn about the candidates and make informed voting decisions vital to you and your family. When we become familiar with the local political process and vote, we can ensure that political candidates who care about the success of all constituents are elected to make decisions in the interest of the people at large and not just small interest groups and lobbyists.  

Who is someone that inspires you, and why? 

My father is my inspiration. My father migrated to the states from Nigeria in the '80s seeking better educational opportunities for his family. He paid his way through two bachelor's and gave up going to law school to take care of his family. His dedication to his family inspires me to help others. I watched him work long, odd hours as a self-employed businessman in the transportation sector to provide for my siblings and me. To this day, he is the number one supporter of my campaign, from driving me to events to putting out yard signs. 

Anything else you would like to share?

Again, I am running for the 313th Juvenile District Court to be a fair, impartial, compassionate judge and show how vital representation and diversity are in the judiciary. Children and their families need to see a judge on the bench that came from the same communities and had similar challenges. I hope to be an inspiration to them as well.

To learn more about my campaign, visit www.durufor313th.com