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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The conversations usually start with a question. “What are you doing with those bad children in your court,” is what Judge Blair Edwards told us she is asked most often. She responds back with confidence saying “I don’t have bad children in my court. I have children who make bad choices because of the situations and circumstances in their lives. But they are not bad children.”

Serving for the last 14 years as a judge in the 21st Judicial District, the Honorable Judge Blair Edwards is described as determined and remarkable by her co-workers, the juveniles in her courtroom, and her family.

“I try to also tell those children that as well. They aren’t bad. They’ve made bad choices but, there are also other choices to make. And they can turn their lives around.”

We all face obstacles in life but, what you do in those moments and, what you do next often shape your life forever.

“I think my early life prepared me for my job,” Judge Edwards shared.

At 16 years old, Blair Edwards became a teen mom. Not letting that stop her from achieving greatness, she used it as motivation, and now, she uses her story to connect to the teens and families in her courtroom.

“The difference in my story and their story is I had support.”

Showing the kids in her court the passion and support that she was shown at their age is what makes Judge Blair Edwards different and unique compared to other judges. Instead of calling them bad seeds the way many people do, Judge Edwards calls them “her babies.”

“Oftentimes in the courtroom, I’ll say to them I love you. And I’ll say I’ll pray for you,” said Edwards. “So, I want them to know that you know that you can make a bad choice and you still can write the end of your story.”

A lot of these children have been disregarded. The system often treats them as just a number or a statistic. “You don’t have to be the statistic. And the statistic doesn’t have to determine your trajectory. That’s what I want them to know. “

Many judges sit on the bench, do their job and that’s it. She gives a second, third, and sometimes even a fourth chance.

“It’s so easy I think for judges or people to say I’m standing in judgment and I don’t think at all.”

We heard firsthand from some of the children and families that Judge Edwards has helped over the years.

Warren Hillman is the father of Kaitlin Hillman, who was in and out of Judge Edwards court as a juvenile. Over the years, the family grew close with Judge Edwards. They told us that she would call them to check-in, and help them after hours and they attribute Judge Edwards to where they are today.

“I want to thank Judge Edwards and her team for helping my daughter out,” said Warren Hillman. “Like I said she probably wouldn’t be here today if they didn’t get involved and did what they did.”

Kaitlin Hillman is now several years sober, alive, and raising two children.
“I feel like if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

When Judge puts on her robe and walks into her courtroom, she walks in with an open mind. She doesn’t want to judge these kids, she wants to help them to find their calling, help them better choices and help them find a better path.

“Children aren’t asked to be born into this world but they are here,” Judge Edwards reminded us. “So, we do have an obligation to my grandchildren. I did have an obligation to my children, I still do but, to the children because they weren’t asked to be placed here but, we can make this a nicer kinder place.”