As a teenager growing up in Youngstown, Ohio, she dreamed of wearing the black judicial robe, even though that dream at first seemed far-fetched to her. "There were no role models at that time. I did not know any African-American attorneys or judges personally. I read history books about Thurgood Marshall on the US Supreme Court, but the only exposure I had to the legal system was from television shows like Perry Mason," she said.
When she was 18, Judge Goodwine's father was diagnosed with lung cancer. Although she was the valedictorian of her high school class, she postponed going to college to be with her parents during her father's last days. He died, three months after his diagnosis. Even while she was attending court reporting school, she dreamed of being a judge.
In 1979, at age 19, Judge Goodwine moved to Lexington to begin work as a court reporter. Five months later, her mother was shot and killed by a mentally ill relative. Then, in the early 80s, Judge Goodwine became seriously ill with Crohn's disease, a painful and debilitating disorder requiring a series of surgeries. She was so ill before her second surgery that doctors gave her only a 50 percent chance of surviving.
Not only did she survive but recovered completely and entered College and earned her Bachelor's degree in Management from the University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics in May, 1991. She still had her heart set on law school, her dreams focused both by the aftermath of her family tragedies and by her experience in the legal system. People told me: "Pam, you're going to be 34 before you even finish law school,"Judge Goodwine reports. "I just told them: I'm going to be 34 anyway, if the good Lord let's me live that long, so I might as well be 34 with a law degree."
Judge Goodwine received her JD from the University of Kentucky's College of Law in May, 1994. At Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs' Lexington office, she focused her legal career on labor and employment law, civil litigation, workers compensation and insurance defense. She has also served her community in a number of other ways. At the time of her induction, she wasChairperson of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights and has been a certified hearing officer for that Commission for three years. She was a member of the National Association of Human Rights Workers and the Lexington Network. She was a board member of Central Kentucky Legal Services, Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, One Parent House, the Lexington Arts & Cultural Council and Networked. Judge Goodwine is a member of the American Bar Association, the Kentucky Bar Association, and the Fayette County Bar Association.
Pamela Renee Goodwine has achieved success through her personal determination and her refusal to give up on her dreams. Her dream of becoming a judge became a reality on September 8, 1999 when she was sworn in as a Fayette District Court Judge, becoming the first African-American woman in the local judiciary. Two months later, Judge Goodwine defeated nine other candidates in the November, 1999 election, earning the right to finish the unexpired judicial term.
As Fayette District Court Judge, Goodwine hears eases involving misdemeanor and juvenile crimes, domestic violence and child support complaints, probate matters and small claims lawsuits.
I want to be a role model for the youth of my community. I want to let them know they, too, can achieve their dreams, if they first believe in God and then in themselves, Goodwine says.