Judge Lucy Chernow Brown

Published February 1991
by Thomas Hoadley

Brown, LucyLucy Brown’s recent campaign material is an accurate description of her qualifications to be a judge. The main points made in her campaign literature were: “Lucy Brown has experienced aspects of our justice system most judges don’t see. Everything in Lucy’s background, in fact, has prepared her to be a judge. Lucy’s legal career has been punctuated with honors and success.

That part was easy, but there was something special about this 44-year old woman who won her election against a popular, well-qualified son of a popular former judge. How did Lucy Brown accomplish this assault on the “Good Ol’ Boy” network? There were two factors, one general, one specific. For the general factor, my wife informed me, there is a whole new generation of accomplished women out there who are smarter than men, they care a lot more about social issues, and work twice as hard as men. You can finish that debate at your next dinner party. You see the proof in Texas, where the governor is a woman; and the Houston Police Chief is pregnant. The specific factor here is that Lucy Brown is a “mustang,” as that term is used in the Navy. she wasn’t placed on the bench by a governor; she worked and advance through the ranks, slowly but surely.

Our new civil judge grew up in Dobbs Ferry, which is a small town on the outskirts of New York City. Her father went to law school, and then became a teacher and a principal of an elementary school. Therefore it is obvious he laid the twin foundations of Lucy’s life, which were education and caretaking.

After high school, she headed down the educational trail to become a teacher. She went to the University of Rochester, University of London for her junior year, graduated, then to Columbia University where she received her masters in education in 1969. Lucy received her teaching certificate and taught social studies and history at Mamaronack, New York High School for a year. In 1970 she came to Florida to work as a tutor and counselor for special problem young students. She decided to move to the Boston area. At the height of the Vietnam War, teaching jobs were hard to find. The only satisfactory job she could find was at a nearby prison, where the inmates were adult men. As one of five teachers, she taught illiterate inmates G.E.D. and enrichment programs.

Lucy had fallen in love with her husband years before and was married in 1972. After a short stay in Tampa, she and Terry moved back to West Palm Beach, where she spent the next four years as a Probation Officer. The first of her two children was born in 1976. Being a Probation Officer has been described as tedious, demanding and sometimes dangerous work. The job requires a lot of outside work as Probation Officers have to make field contact with their probationers. Surprise home visits, check with neighbors, visit places of employment and, in general, visually confirm the information coming in the monthly reports. Probation officers have to make sure their subjects follow the different programs ordered by the Circuit Judges as part of their sentence. This would include various programs for alcohol abuse, drug abuse, psychiatric treatment, or other training or counseling from the many private and public groups. It was probably at this point that she had to call upon every once of stamina had to bring together her background in education, counseling, communication skills and her caretaking ability to supervise, train and educate 120 convicted felons and misdemeanants.

Then, in 1978, she went to work for David Bludworth for four years. She helped the State Attorney edit the Legal Eagle and the Advisor. This newsletter went to law enforcement officers in Palm Beach County, and contained all the latest court decisions relative to search and seizure, entrapment, arrest and other problem areas that working police officers need to know. This was a 20-hour-a-week job, and it gave her time to go to Nova Law School where she got her law degree in 1982. She was then 36 years old. To attest to her intelligence, she had graduated magna cum laude, Law Review and Dean’s List during all semesters. After graduation, she became an Assistant State Attorney for three years, trying misdemeanors and later in the Felony Division. With an eye to a judgeship, and not wanting to be a career prosecutor, Lucy branched into civil law.

For the next five years she was an Assistant City Attorney and with three civil law firms. During this time, she was involved with civil administrative law, personal injury cases, commercial and general litigation and miscellaneous civil matters. Lucy became a lecturer and workshop leader for the A.T.L.A. National College of Advocacy in 1988 and 1989. In 1989, she was voted one of the three top lecturers on Trial Practice in Washington, D.C. She is a past president of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, Palm Beach County.

On three occasions, she applied to the Judicial Nominating Commission, and her name went to the Governor three times; but she was not selected. She decided to run for a vacant judgeship and was elected in the recent election b an overwhelming majority.

When you reflect upon Lucy Brown’s career of combining education and caretaking as a high school teacher, tutor of special problem children, teacher in a male adult prison, parole and probation officer, criminal justice newsletter editor, Assistant State Attorney, Assistant City Attorney and civil lawyer, you will find a person with 21 years of an extremely wide range of work experience, knowledge and understanding of social problems and the various governmental and private agencies that are in place to solve social problems. Add to this, of course, she is a wife and mother, and a member of this new generation of women who turn men’s heads because of their accomplishments

When asked to describe herself, our new Judge Brown states she is a “caring” person with strong “feeling for people.” While many people have such feelings, very few have worked so hard for so long in such a constructive and practical way to do something about it.