September 22, 2014

Sotomayor Marks Dedication of Carr Judicial Center

By Sara Crocker

Sotomayor1As a child, Sonia Sotomayor never dreamed of becoming a lawyer, let alone a U.S. Supreme Court justice — until she was introduced to Perry Mason, the fictional L.A. defense attorney of TV.

“Watching Perry Mason taught me about something called lawyering,” she said, adding the show “exposed me to this different career and I started to examine and think about it as a possibility for myself.”

Sotomayor joined Chief Justice Michael Bender and Gov. John Hickenlooper to dedicate the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center on Thursday. Before the official dedication, she met with 100 students from around the state, as well as their family members and state legislators, to talk with them and hear their questions.

Students asked Sotomayor everything from whether she sometimes feels that she has too much power to how she coped with losing her father at the age of 9. Throughout the discussion, she encouraged students to take chances and to follow their passion, whatever that may be.

“The hardest thing to do is take chances when you can fail,” she said, but the way to alleviate that fear is to learn.

“The world opened for me when I read,” Sotomayor said. “When I found books, I found my rocket ship to the universe.”

Bender called Sotomayor a “rockstar” and praised her for her dedication to youth and ensuring that they were a part of the dedication of the judicial center. The chief justice also took time to recognize the building’s namesake, the late Gov. Ralph L. Carr, who spoke out against the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

“Governor Carr was the only person of any political stature who stood up for those who were unjustly interned. He did so against overwhelming public opinion and he did so in a way that actually destroyed his political career,” Bender said. “He is somebody that we all should be inspired by.”

Guests at the dedication included people who were at Japanese internment camps in Colorado, former governors, legislators, and judges and justices from around the state.

Sotomayor2During the dedication ceremony, Sotomayor compared the judicial center with her own courthouse in Washington. Sotomayor, a lover of architecture, said courthouses embody the important work done within them.

The new center, called a 100-year building because the judicial branch plans to grow with the building, sits across from the Capitol at 2 E. 14th Ave. The $258-million building features airy spaces with natural light flowing from the atrium, and the accompanying high-rise houses approximately 1,200 judicial branch employees.

“This center will live it’s intended 100 years with dignity, but its message, like that of my court, will live through the centuries, carried by the memory of all who have walked its halls and felt its impact,” Sotomayor said.

Sara Crocker is the communications specialist for the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations and the editor of The Docket.

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