A Woman’s Journey to the Judicial Bench: Judge Sandra Mazer Moss’ Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs


I went to law school at night with my
kids and there weren’t many women in our class and we weren’t particularly wanted
the only reason I got into Temple night school is because I had a really high
average and evidently in those days they temple wanted to raise its mean average so I mean starting with your own father
you know you faced the obstacle of not being encouraged and in what you wanted
to do professionally yeah yeah law was revered in my family my I have two
brothers my father wanted one of his sons to be a lawyer and he pushed the
law and it was his daughter who picked up the whole idea of law and I think it
took him a long time to realize that he was he was proud of the fact that I got
a law degree and that they had my parents held the Bible when I was sworn
in as a judge but he still was sort of a little befuddled that it was his
daughter that did it right what did what did he do perfect what did my father
owned a bar to her and I a liquor store my mother was an elementary school
teacher right well that’s the thing I mean women in that time you could be a
teacher you could be a secretary or a nurse a nurse waitress I mean weren’t
very many women saying I want to go not only be a lawyer but but I want to be a
judge well it wasn’t it wasn’t encouraged and when I ran for
judge for in the Democratic primary and this is Philadelphia’s the democratic
town so my election was the primary if I won the primary I was going to be a
judge and there were 45 people running for 10
positions and there were I think six women maybe six out of 45 out of 45
people and four of us got elected and that was me I had been one of those
bra-burning feminists before I marched for the ERA and and I wrote position
papers for candidates and I was president of the Philadelphia women’s
political caucus I mean I did all of those things but
when I actually ran for judge I didn’t realize that actually being a woman was
helpful at the polls and it was really interesting it was not helpful with the
political higher-ups necessarily except those in my ward that were supporting me
but the voters there was a group that called themselves the committee to elect
women judges and of the six of us they picked four that they felt had the
qualifications they wanted and two of us were white and Jewish and two of us were
two of us were african-american and Catholic so they weren’t exactly
completely diverse and they went around and got us speaking engagements and
raised money for us and when I ran in the general election people would say to
me I don’t remember your name but I know I voted for you because I voted for the
four women judges and that gave me a little insight into possibilities you
know that women could be valuable assets at the polls and you look at the
Superior Court today our middle-level appellate court is mostly women
mm-hmm and you know I know what I get too far ahead of our story here could
but I know that one of the things that you’re involved in today we’re gonna do
want to spend some time talking about this is mentoring for younger women
lawyers and the role that women in leadership positions can play if more
women can get to positions of leadership and so it’s it’s interesting the story
of when you were first elected because here is an organization that’s really
actively supporting and encouraging women to get into those positions but
then how and how helpful that was well it was helpful in getting me in
absolutely but then once I was elected there were out of 95 judges there were
only seven women on the bench and the four of us made eleven so when all of us
the four of us when when I when we’ve had cell phones go off during our time
so when I got into the court I think of these seven women
were gonna mentor us and help us out and it didn’t happen of the seven women only
two of them were interested in reaching out and saying hi welcome let me show
you the ropes the other five were not interested why do you think now you
could see why in business I’m not saying justifying it but you can come up with
all kinds of reasons why someone wouldn’t reach out and help somebody up
or mentor why in this area why on the court wouldn’t an already established
female judge reach out to you new comers okay what I think is and this is a
learning for us as women I think even though they were in positions of power
their position on the court was tenuous and if one of them was promoted or put
in an assignment that was particularly a good assignment they were afraid if they
mentored us and showed us the way to do it then we’d come up and take it away
from them

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