Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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Community Service Fuels Harper’s Run for Judge
By Cora Jackson-Fossett, Staff Writer
Published January 30, 2020

Attorney Caree Annette Harper (Courtesy photo)

Caree A. Harper has been called a lot of names during her career. Those monikers include “decorated police officer,” “get-out-the-vote activist,” and “warrior angel.”

Embracing the truth of the descriptions and acknowledging her love of public service has persuaded Harper to seek an even more meaningful role as a judge on the L.A. Superior Court bench. A candidate for Seat 162 on the March 3 ballot, she hopes to convince voters that the breathe of her experiences will benefit the people of Los Angeles County.

Outlining her background, Harper noted her positions in law enforcement and as a civil rights attorney. In both careers, she worked closely with her colleagues as well as community members to improve conditions, both in the workplace and on the streets.

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“I believe I am uniquely qualified to be a judge because I have well-rounded experiences to draw from,” explained Harper, who received the Lifesaving Medal for rescuing and performing CPR on a driver submerged in a water canal while serving as a police officer in the Bay Area.

“Later, I was injured in the line of duty by someone who did not want to go to jail,” she said. The suspect was ultimately convicted, but the accident ended her “patrol days.” While recuperating, Harper took up Taekwondo as physical therapy where she adopted the philosophical tenets of the practice – courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit.

“In addition to earning a Black/Red belt and winning a Silver medal in the California State Taekwondo Games, I learned to be a champion of freedom and justice and to help build a more peaceful world,” she said.

Enrolling next in Thomas Jefferson (previously Western State) Law School, Harper studied hard, yet still found time to aid others through her volunteer work delivering Meals on Wheels, coaching Special Olympics athletes and mentoring at-risk youths. Unsurprisingly, her attraction to community service grew even stronger.

When Harper incorporated her love of service into her practice as a civil rights attorney, the victories really began to add up for her.

Her accomplishments included successfully arguing for a reversal in a major federal civil rights action before a three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and receiving a multi-million settlement for the family of Kendrec McDade, an unarmed 19-year-old man, who was shot and killed by the Pasadena police officers in 2012.

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“I experienced another success in the case of Marlene Pinnock in 2014,” recalled Harper. “The video of her beating by a California Highway Patrol officer went viral. The result was a $1.5 million settlement for Ms. Pinnock and the agreement set precedent by including the terms of the officer’s termination.”

She provided pro bono legal services to Black Lives Matters members in 2016 that ended in no convictions. Also, her representation of the family of Reginald Thomas vs. Pasadena PD in 2018 ended with a $1.5 million settlement.

Harper has been known to go beyond the civil rights arena to help people on a pro bono basis. During the housing crisis in the mid-2000s, she was moved to assist after witnessing a few homeowners lose their dwellings.

“I developed a strategy for the homeowners to countersue the lenders for loaning them the money in the first place when they knew they were not qualified to have that loan,” Harper said. “I also assisted them in renegotiating their mortgage terms and was able to help people stay in their homes. It was pro-bono work and it was very fulfilling.”

Aiming to aid more people, Harper partnered with Dominique DiPrima, host of “The Front Page,” which airs weekday mornings on Radio Free KJLH 102.3 FM. Their collaboration allows Harper to educate the community by broadcasting legal updates and to work as a segment producer to highlight important citywide issues. Recently, Harper produced pieces featuring voting information and the 2020 District Attorney candidates.

“I do this because I believe it is important for the community to be as informed as possible about the criminal justice and legal system that so greatly impacts their lives,” she said.

Harper also believes that the many involvements and interests in her life prepares her to be “a positive and honorable” judge as well as “fair and impartial.”

“I will be a kind and welcoming face when you come into the courtroom and I will treat people with respect and dignity no matter what they are charged with,” vowed Harper.

“People have a right to be treated with respect and dignity in the courtroom and if elected, I intend to bring that – along with that fairness and impartiality – to the bench.”

To learn more, visit harper4judge.com.

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