Mid-South Attorney Christine Cane chasing history, vying for Criminal Court Judge

Christine Cane boasts a solid sports resume that includes having emerged into a standout in basketball and volleyball.

Just recently, the Mid-South-area Cane Law Firm Attorney was going on and on about her past experiences as a dual-sport athlete.

CaneMain“I played volleyball and basketball in middle school,” Cane told MemphiSport during a recent interview.  “I got MVP for basketball and volleyball. I played point guard in basketball and setter in volleyball. Sports definitely gave me a competitive edge.”

Cane even recalls arguably her grandest moment as an athlete, an occurrence that, in her estimation, is indicative of what has been a stellar law career for the 32-year-old lawyer.

“I will never forget our volleyball team had gone undefeated all season,” Cane explained. “We got to the tournament and lost a game in the second round. You could only lose twice in order to be put out. After that first loss we were down, but determined to come back and work our way up to the championship match. Even though we had gotten to the losers bracket, we did just that. We worked our way in to the championship match and won it! It was super rewarding.”

According to Cane, is it because of the never-say-die temperament she exhibited on the volleyball and basketball circuits that has fueled her desire to capture what could potentially evolve as a monumental chapter to a flourishing law career.

Cane is among two candidates vying to assume the Criminal Court Judge, Division 9 in this year’s election.

The seat is currently being occupied by incumbent Mark Ward, who was appointed in 2004.

For Cane, upending Ward — her former law school professor and a veteran judge who boasts more than three decades of experience in criminal justice — would not only serve as a major upset, but it would be a historical moment for the city of Memphis. If elected, Cane would become the youngest African-American judge ever elected to preside over a criminal court in Shelby County.

Early voting takes place from July 18 through August 2. The general election is August 7.

Among the reasons Cane contends she is a viable candidate to unseat the incumbent is that she has proven to become an asset on what she describes as “both sides of the courtroom.”

“With family, I have experienced sitting and praying that my relative is not thrown in jail,” Cane said. “I have also experienced being the victim of criminal activity. I have experienced representing individuals that are innocent and those that were guilty and my level of concern and diligence did not waiver. I care, I listen, I seek to understand and, most importantly, I want to see people better and rehabilitated. That will, in turn, cause a change in our families and communities.”

After 10 years, Cane don’t shy away from the notion that change is essential, in large part because she believes judges nowadays should develop a commitment to getting to what she refers to the “heart of the problem.”

“Many criminals commit offenses for different reasons, and if the reason can be remedied, then so can the individual,” Cane said. “There are some courtrooms that need change and other courtrooms are fair. Change is necessary here. Criminal Court, Division 9 needs change.”

And Cane, despite her young age, insists she is the likely candidate to create change.

She said the thought of running for her first political seat initially surfaced in early March.

After weeks of serious consideration, she ultimately launched her campaign, one she hopes will persuade Memphians to buy into her policies and concepts as Election Day looms.

The second of five children, who was raised in a single-parent establishment in the suburbs of Nashville, Cane was what she deems her mother’s “go-to” child, considering she was routinely relied upon mostly to look after her younger siblings, seeing that they had done homework, chores, and eaten, among other things.

“I can remember my mom working three jobs in order to support us. She always told me that I was going to be an attorney to help her get her back child support from my dad,” Cane jokingly said.  “I am an attorney, but I’m not sure if she ever got (back child support) though.”

NEWLY WEDS --- Sean Williams, who married Christine Cane less than two years ago, has been her grandest supporter on her campaign trail.

NEWLY WEDS — Sean Williams, who married Christine Cane less than two years ago, has been her grandest supporter on her campaign trail.

Her quest for pursuing a law career was fueled when she witnessed two of her closest relatives sentenced to prison when she was a child.

“To me, the justice system wasn’t very just to them,” Cane explained.  “I was hurt and bothered that my loved ones were away from me, but I was motivated, inspired, and determined to be the attorney my mom wanted me to be, but for a different reason.  I wanted to make just the injustices in the system.  Now, everyday I see young men and women charged with crimes and I have the opportunity to help them and make a difference to ensure that the justice system is more just to them than it was to my loved ones.  For that, I am grateful and very fulfilled in my career.”

The managing and founding partner of Cane Law Firm, PLLC, Cane runs offices in Memphis and in Nashville, where she practices criminal defense, family law and personal injury law. A graduate of Nashville’s Hunters Lane High and Fisk University with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science, Cane later enrolled in the University of Memphis Law School, where she received her Juris Doctorate as a recipient of the U of M Law School Distinguished Service Award. 

Consequently Cane’s career took off to immense heights when she was an assistant public defender in Memphis and Shelby County during which she represented impecunious criminal defendants who didn’t have legal representation.

In addition, Cane has served on the Board of Directors for the Memphis Second Chance Organization and as a mentor for youths at Frayser and Carver High Schools. Married for the past year-and-a-half to Sean Williams, she is a member of Greater Community Temple Church of God In Christ.

“I’m proud of my wife,” Sean Williams said. “I’m happy to be married to a woman that will fight for what she believes is right, regardless of what or whom she’s fighting. Her tenacity and determination certainly makes our family stronger and better.”

A campaign that has been underway for a little more than three months, Cane said she is confident her experience and qualifications will convince voters to help thrust her into a new chapter into her already-stellar career.

“When elected to the office of judge, I promise to be true to who I am, which is a God-fearing, compassionate woman that only wants to see our justice system be just to everyone, regardless of income, race, sex, or creed,” Cane said.

As for voters who might question her age and lack of experience as a criminal court judge, Cane compared her campaign to that of President Barak Obama, particularly when he lobbied for his first term as President of the United States.

“Age does not necessarily mean experience, rather the quality of the time given,” she said. “In my time as an attorney, I have done a great deal. I have served as assistant public defender, and now have two thriving offices, one in Memphis and one in Nashville. I don’t think you have to be close to retirement to be able to do the job. I have ample jury trial experience. My youthfulness brings change, innovation, and energy. That is exactly what 201 Poplar needs.”

Change her mother sensed would ultimately come to fruition.

Change her mother saw coming more than two decades ago.

DreColumnAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also is the NBA Southwest Division reporter. To reach Johnson, email him at andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

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