20th Judicial District
Rhonda WoodJudge Rhonda Wood, 39, heeds racing legend Mario Andretti's advice: "If you have everything under control you're not going fast enough."
The judge isn't reckless; she just believes in pushing toward her goals, and those include improving lives.
After law school, she started her own practice, eventually bought out by Williams & Anderson. Gov. Mike Huckabee appointed her a judge in 2006, and Wood was elected in 2008 to a six-year term.
As judge, Wood started the Faulkner County Teen Court, where 50 seniors recommended by their high schools hear real juvenile delinquency cases. "It's peer-to-peer accountability," she said. The court "helps them learn about community service and the court system and to learn to be role models. At the same time, they're helping out a kid in need that they probably wouldn't interact with typically."
The teens who receive counseling through the court later serve as jurors, "so they get to be a part of the solution."
Wood supervises the teen court on her own time. She also helped found the Conway Interfaith Clinic, which provides free and reduced-rate medical and dental care.
Although her approach "is to always treat everybody with respect," Wood believes in challenging the status quo. If she and her staff become too comfortable in their jobs, "then we're not doing enough."
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