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Alumna Becomes D.C. Judge, Remains Committed to AU

Alumna Rainey Ransom Brandt speaks at her confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate.

“My entire career has been devoted to public service, the law, and improving the administration of justice,” said Rainey Ransom Brandt, CAS/BGS ’89, SPA/MS ’90, CAS-SPA/PhD ’93, during her Senate confirmation hearing to become an associate judge of the District of Columbia Superior Court.

When announcing her nomination in March 2012, President Obama said, “Throughout her career, Rainey Ransom Brandt has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to justice. I am proud to nominate her to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.”

Although she is still awaiting confirmation from the Senate to become an associate judge of the D.C. Superior Court, Brandt was sworn in as a Superior Court magistrate judge on November 7 after spending 14 years as special counsel to the chief judge of the D.C. Superior Court.

As special counsel, Brandt was the in-house expert on criminal law and prisoners’ rights, handling sentencing issues and answering inquiries regarding law changes. In her new role as a magistrate judge, she will preside over preliminary hearings in domestic violence cases, including arraignments and child support.

While attending American University, Brandt had different plans. The popularity of the show “L.A. Law” piqued her interest in pursuing a career as an FBI agent. But research she conducted at the now-closed Lorton Prison while completing her PhD in justice with a specialization in corrections changed her mind. She decided to go to law school at Catholic University, but no longer wanted to join the FBI.

Brandt taught classes while she was a graduate student and has remained committed to AU as an adjunct associate professor for 21 years – including one year as a full-time professor – and teaches one criminal justice class every semester.

“I learn more from my students than they learn from me,” Brandt says. Moderating classroom discussions has shown her the value of integrating many opinions and points of view, and she hopes her experience as a professor in the classroom will translate to being a judge in the courtroom.

“My students have taught me how to deal with issues and controversy. As a professor, I have always tried to be a calming influence over their chaotic lives. … Having to deal with all those different scenarios over the years has taught me how to be calm and rational under pressure,” she adds.

No matter where her career goes next, Brandt’s dedication to AU and education is unwavering. She says, “I will always remain a professor at heart. … I won’t stop that just because I’m becoming a judge.”