Judge Baker-Carper changing courtroom culture

Photo courtesy of Judge Tiffany M. Baker-Carper

Leon County Circuit Court Judge Tiffany M. Baker-Carper promises to always treat people with dignity and respect.

Born and raised in Quincy, Baker-Carper initially wanted to be a doctor. She graduated from the University of Miami, earning degrees in finance and chemistry. After graduating, she developed an interest in criminal law.

Baker-Carper graduated from Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC. She began a career as an attorney at the public defenders’ office.

Newly introduced to the world of law, her initial experience was bittersweet.

“Being a brand-new attorney, was really a struggle for me, I had a strong desire to be Black and excellent. My counterparts looked at me like they think I’m better than them,” Baker-Carper said. “I came across as intimidating, too smart, over confident. But, in reality that was not the case. I walked in the courtroom with the mentality that as a Black person, we have to run faster, be 10 times better.

“I really strived to be impressive and great at my job. My mom always told me if you’re not going to do it right, just don’t do it, so I live by that,” she added.

Baker-Carper knew that she was different from others. No matter her surroundings, she is going to do what she feels is necessary to successfully do her job.

A mentor recalls some adversities she faced as a new attorney.

“Being an African-American female in this industry, Tiffany may have appeared to be an aggressor, intimidator or the angry Black woman,” said Lisa Mitchell. “She really is just a hard worker that is self-motivated, passionate, open-minded and inquisitive. In and out of the courtroom, she is very loyal and will give you everything she has. Tiffany’s journey as a judge, she wants to see change. She has a strong desire to make a difference.”

After being an attorney and witnessing first-hand the unjust treatment of her clients, Baker-Carper decided to run for circuit judge.

Judge Baker-Carper, husband Leonard, daughters Phoenix Ray, and Lennox Luna. Photo courtesy of Baker-Carper

“I went before several different judges, knew the good ones, knew the bad ones, but what really struck me were judges that did not treat people with dignity and respect,” Baker- Carper said. “Therefore, I ran in order to do something about that. I ran in order to give the community a judge that regardless of what they were charged with, why they appeared before the court, their economic status, looked like, or sound like, they would have a judge that would listen to them, give them an opportunity to be heard, respect them, and just truly treat them like human beings,” Baker-Carper said.

According to Ryan Randolph, Baker-Carper’s judicial assistant, there is no question that she has kept her word to treat people with dignity and respect.

“I know first-hand that she has been living up to the campaign of treating people the way she promised,” Randolph said. “She has received letters from parents and juveniles. Parents tell her on the record that she treats the juveniles with care, she is fair, does what she feels is right, and talks to people with respect.”

Judge Baker-Carper presides over the juvenile court where she has implemented a program that allows those who are placed on probation to gain community service hours by wearing a tie to court, learning how to tie a tie, and teaching someone else how to tie a tie. She wants the youth to learn new skills before leaving the system.

“I truly believe that when they start wearing ties, the people in the community will see them in a different light, seeing them of value, seeing that they have a promised future,” Mellie Baker, Baker-Carper’s father, said.

The 35-years-old, no longer subscribes to the mentality that her life’s successes and journey is based on the color of her skin. She is married to Leonard Carper and has two beautiful daughters, Phoenix Ray, 9, and Lennox Luna, 2.

Judge Baker-Carper is charged with treating everyone with dignity and respect and changing the perspective in the courtroom.