Judge Filer reveals his poetic journey
“The book’s title means that it speaks for itself,” Filer said. “It tells you all about me, and my experiences are told through my poetry.”
A strong, loving family provided the support Filer needed to help him make the right choices in life. The book is dedicated to his mother and father.
“My brothers would always tease me and call me the spoiled one,” he said. “They told me that the day after I left for college, the pancakes my mother always made stopped, and five bowls of oatmeal would be on the kitchen table for breakfast.”
In making the right choices in life, Filer said the whole neighborhood also played an important role.
“Everybody in my neighborhood watched out for us,” he said. “If I did something wrong at Mrs. Simmons house, I would probably get spanked two or three times before I got home.”
Filer said the neighborhood parents kept all the children involved in many activities, like Little League, Pop Warner Football, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and church choirs. There wasn’t time for the negative temptations in life.
“I have been writing poetry since I was a little boy,” he said. “Many of the poems I’ve written reflect new experiences and changes in my life.”
Filer describes writing poetry as cathartic. This outlet, he said, would help him achieve his career goals.
“I was focused on my first year of law school because everyone told me it is the toughest, and I really wanted to be a lawyer,” he said. “I decided that the poems I began writing when I was a child tell my story of my life.
His journey from Compton to the California Superior Court Bench led him right back home, he said. Filer’s parents taught him that success comes from standing on the backs of others. So he came back to give to the community.
“After I graduated from law school I spent two years in the public defender’s office and it was a great experience,” he said. “I had the opportunity to move on to law firms from there, but I wanted to go into private practice in Compton.”
The low points in his life, Filer said, are also reflected in his writings.
“When my marriage fell apart, I was worried about my daughters, and I was confused about what went wrong,” he said. “I started to drink when I wasn’t working. I was self-medicating.”
In 1996, when he was a court commissioner, no one celebrated his birthday with him, so he celebrated by himself — and got a DUI.
“That was the best thing that could ever have happened to me,” Filer said. “I was sending the wrong message to my daughters and the community. I had terrific support from my colleagues, who understood what I was going through.”
He decided at age 38 that a career change would be good, and he describes his position on the Los Angeles Superior Court Bench as “pretty cool.”
“As I look forward,” Filer said, “I take every opportunity to mentor school children, and spread the message of making good choices and having positive role models.”
Finally it was Filer’s daughters who encouraged him to tell his story.
“I wanted my children to read the story, because they are a big part of my life, and it tells of some very personal struggles,” he said. “They read it, and they encouraged me to go forward.
“All of these experiences make up who I am,” Filer said,” and they are expressed through my poetry.”