Feel-Good Friday (on Saturday): Youngest PA Judge Hanif Johnson Continues to Inspire and Serve

Screenshot credit: WMAR Channel 2 YouTube

Hanif Johnson first appeared on the radar in 2018 because he became the youngest elected judge in Pennsylvania. Johnson is a magisterial district judge, which is a position elected by residents of the local community. No law degree is required. The position receives receive training to prepare them for the legal issues they may face, most surrounding traffic citations and minor criminal offenses. Any candidate for magistrate is required to pass an examination before taking the office.

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Johnson ran as a Democrat, yet his story of overcoming obstacles and using the stumbling blocks in his life as stepping stones to a brighter future is no manufactured narrative. It is the real deal. Johnson is a rare exception showing that party affiliation does not necessarily dictate the trajectory and tenor of one's life direction and witness. Thus he is a subject worthy of Feel-Good Friday

At 27, Judge Hanif Johnson entered the annals of history, becoming Pennsylvania’s youngest-ever elected judge in 2018. His path to the bench was shaped by personal encounters with law enforcement during his teenage years, leading him to challenge a system he perceived as unfair. Leaving a lucrative job, Johnson embarked on a campaign for public office, facing skeptics who questioned his youth. Yet, he engaged in persistent conversations that showcased his knowledge and leadership acumen.

This was the profile on Johnson done by a local station four years ago.

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Central to his success is his strong community bond. Beyond the courtroom, Judge Johnson dedicates his free time to mentoring local youth, relentlessly motivating them to pursue their aspirations, whether in sports or entertainment. His term since 2018 has been marked by a unique approach informed by empathy and understanding born from his own experiences. This allows him to address issues in ways that resonate with the people he serves.

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What also contributes to his success is his gratitude and his humility, perfectly expressed in this Instagram post.


In 2021, Johnson decided to serve his country by joining the Army Reserves. 


Johnson believes in the work he is doing on the bench, in the community, and in the military. So much so that he is running for re-election, and oddly enough, is cross-filed on both the Democrat and Republican ballots.

What?!

After he was elected to office, he joined the United States Army Reserves, and other judges covered his position while he was at basic training from January to May of 2022.

“All my jobs were service-based. They’re about the community,” Johnson said.

Johnson said his biggest advantage is the experience he gained while in office. He said he thought he knew what the job entailed, but quickly woke up to the challenges of the position while learning it.

“The learning curve is tremendous,” Johnson said. “You have to take a look at the totality of circumstances. You think you know something, then there’s a twist and it changes the entire outcome.”

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Johnson's values are rooted in conservative values. Every man and woman has the freedom and potential to make a brighter future. His choice of aspiration over victimization at every turn is inspiring. The fact that he brings this attitude to his role as a magistrate judge, to the youth that he mentors in the community, and in his service to his country is an example to follow.

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