HARRISBURG , PA — Judge Hanif Johnson became the youngest judge in the state of Pennsylvania when he was elected at the age of 27. His personal encounters with law enforcement encouraged him to run for office.
As a teen, Johnson was placed in handcuffs on more than one occasion.
"I’ve been arrested three times, a lot of the time I felt like I wasn’t given a fair opportunity. A lot of times when I was looking over at someone, it was someone that didn’t look like me, they weren’t from my area, they didn’t understand what happens in my area. I felt like it was an unfair perspective in a sense," said Johnson.
He decided to allow those negative experiences to propel him to the bench. He quit what he calls a good paying job to launch a campaign.
"I walked in and I told my supervisor on a Friday , I said I might quit on Monday because I have to quit in order to announce that I’m going to run. I think to a lot of people they looked and said oh this guy is too young and those that said I was too young, I made sure I came back and had a conversation with them about four or five times and around the fourth or fifth time they were able to see ok this guy knows some things," said Johnson.
Judge Johnson credits his success to his connection with the community. He frequently spends his free time mentoring youth in his neighborhood and coaching track at his old high school.
"I tell them all the time don’t let nobody tell you you can’t do something. Even when you have that little kid that says I want to be in the NBA or I want to be in the NFL or I want to be a rapper, I always ask them well what are you doing to do that? Are you taking extra shots, are you studying film, are you writing anything? I just encourage them because you never know, you never know, " said Johnson.
Judge Johnson began his six year term in 2018.