Judge, Montgomery County
The first African-American woman to become a Montgomery County District Court judge, Karla Smith is a trailblazer in more ways than one. Before her appointment in August, the 43-year-old was a prosecutor handling child-abuse cases. She became a leader in the fight to criminalize child neglect in Maryland, helping create the 2011 law that makes it punishable by up to five years in prison.
Smith’s 16 years as a prosecutor have given her invaluable perspective as a judge. She says the experience taught her never to bring preconceived notions to a case and to treat each matter with respect and attention to detail.