A Kentucky judge has gone viral twice in the past two weeks for her displays of compassion in the courtroom that were caught on video.
Judge Amber Wolf first helped a defendant who said she was not given a uniform or sanitary products during her weeklong stay in jail, expressing outrage over her treatment and calling officials down to the courtroom to fix the problem.
After receiving widespread praise for her handling of that situation, Wolf found herself back in the news, this time for allowing an inmate to meet his 1-month-old son for the first time.
Wolf, a 34-year-old Louisville native, has been a Jefferson County judge since 2014.
Here’s what you need to know about her:
1. Wolf Called It ‘Outrageous’ When a Defendant Was Brought Into Her Court With No Pants On
In late July, a video showing Wolf’s shock over the treatment of a defendant who had been held in a Louisville Metro Corrections jail went viral.
The unidentified woman was in Wolf’s courtroom for failing to complete a diversionary program for a 2014 shoplifting charge, her first criminal offense. She’d been arrested on a warrant and spent several days in jail before appearing before Wolf for sentencing.
In the video, the woman’s attorney can be heard telling Wolf the jail “refused to give her pants and any kind of hygiene products that she needed.”
Wolf then says incredulously, “no pants? what?” And the woman says she came in on Sunday wearing what she had on.
The judge then repeatedly said, “excuse me,” and threw her pen onto her desk, saying “this is outrageous. Is this for real?”
Wolf then told the attorney, “this can’t wait,” and called jail officials from the bench.
“I’m actually calling to talk to Director Bolton or anyone who can come to my court room and tell me why there is a female defendant standing in front of me with no pants on,” Wolf said.
The judge told the woman she wasn’t trying to embarrass her and said she is “very sorry,” before asking her staff to find something for her to cover up with.
“What the hell is going on?,” the judge asked a jail official. “This is outrageous. This cannot happen.”
The woman told the judge she has never had any other arrests other than the shoplifting incident. The judge rejected the 75-day sentence the woman was set to receive, calling it “ridiculous,” and gave her a $100 fine and credit for the time she served in jail.
Metro Corrections has claimed that the woman was wearing shorts under a long T-shirt.
“The judge drew a conclusion she didn’t have pants on and didn’t do anything to confirm that,” the jail’s assistant director Steve Durham told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “If we had taken somebody over with no pants on we should be held responsible. We didn’t.”
Read more about that incident at the link below:
Kentucky Judge Amber Wolf was furious after Louisville jailers sent a woman to court without pants. Watch video from the court room here.Click here to read more
2. She Says It Was a ‘Human Thing’ That Led Her to Allow the Inmate to Meet His Son
A week after the first video went viral, Wolf was back in the news, this time for helping an inmate meet his newborn son for the first time.
Wolf told WDRB-TV she knew James Roeder had not been able to see his new son, because he and his wife, Ashley, have been barred from contacting each other while they are co-defendants in a burglary case.
“I saw her try to hold the baby up when he came out for his case to be called with his attorney,” Wolf told the news station “And I thought that he hadn’t seen that. And it occurred to me after we finished this case that he had not met his baby — who was 30 days old — and that he was not going to get an opportunity to meet his baby anytime in the near future.”
Wolf can be seen in the video calling on Ashley Roeder to bring her son up to meet his dad for the first time.
“I know you have a no-contact order between you and Mrs. Roeder that I issued — and I am not changing that,” Wolf said. “I’m making a temporary exception right in front of me, on the record, so that you can meet this baby. This is your son.”
As the husband and wife shed tears, Wolf handed out tissues
“If you all aren’t teared up, then you’re just heartless,” she said after the couple left the courtroom.
“It wasn’t really a judge thing,” she told WDRB. “I think it was just more of a human thing. He hadn’t met his baby. And I could see that his wife wanted him to see the baby. And I know from previous interactions from Mr. Roeder that he had been very concerned about being able to meet his baby prior to it being born. And I just saw an opportunity that I didn’t want to squander.”
The Roeders are accused of breaking into a warehouse and stealing six flat screen televisions in February.
3. Wolf, a Former Public Defender & County Attorney, Was Elected as a 30th District Court Judge in 2014
Amber Wolf was first elected as a judge for the 30th District court in 2014, according to Ballotpedia. Her term runs until 2019, the website says.
She won a primary in May 2014, receiving 37.5 percent of the vote against Josh P. Schneider and Derwin L. Webb. She then faced Schneider in the November general election in November and defeated him a second time, receiving 55.9 percent of the vote.
Kentucky judicial elections are non-partisan.
Before becoming a judge, Wolf was the assistant county attorney for Jefferson County, was a sole practitioner at the Law Officer of Metcalf & Wolf from 2009 to 2010 and was a staff attorney for the Louisville Metro Public Defender’s office from 2007 to 2009.
She writes about her past work on her Linkedin profile:
I was admitted to the Kentucky Bar Association in 2007. I started my career as a Staff Attorney with the Louisville Metro Public Defender’s Office, where I defended indigent defendants in both Jefferson District and Jefferson Circuit courts. In 2009, I left the Public Defender’s office and opened a private practice. As a sole practitioner, I practiced in Jefferson County as well as Hardin, Bullitt, Shelby and Henry counties. My practice included criminal defense, juvenile law, family law and civil law. In 2011, I joined the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office and have been proudly practicing as a criminal prosecutor in Jefferson District Court ever since. Throughout my career, I have had thousands of hearings in District Court, Circuit Court and Family Court. I have personally had multiple trials in both District and Family Courts and assisted with many others in Jefferson District and Circuit Courts. My experience includes all areas of criminal law including domestic violence, DUI, Juvenile court, property crimes, violent crimes, and drug related crimes, as well as general traffic, misdemeanor and felony cases.
Wolf said on Linkedin, “I have dedicated my life and my career to public service and will continue to do so. I am honest, hard-working and dedicated and I have served on both sides of the criminal legal system with integrity, honor and compassion. Without doubt, I am the most qualified and the best candidate for Jefferson County District Court Judge.”
4. She Went to High School, College & Law School in Louisville
Wolf went to high school, college and law school in Louisville, according to her Facebook page.
“I am a proud Louisville native and graduate of Jefferson County Public Schools. My alma maters include Whitney Young Elementary School, Highland Middle School and Atherton High School,” Wolf says on Facebook.
Wolf then graduated from the University of Louisville in 2004 with a degree in political science. She then graduated in 2007 from the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at Louisville in 2007.
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5. She Is Married to a Louisville Police Officer & Has 3 Children
Wolf’s husband, Allan Wolf, is a Louisville Metro police officer, she says on her Facebook page.
She and her husband have three young children, two daughters and a son.