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During a visit to Nibley Park Elementary on Thursday, Salt Lake County Justice Court Judge Shauna Graves-Robertson welcomed questions from students.

They asked about halfway houses and ankle monitors, including whether juvenile offenders could be placed under house arrest.

And they asked if Graves-Robertson had ever met Judith Sheindlin, better known as TV's Judge Judy.

Graves-Robertson said she had not, and that court proceedings function a little differently in real life than they do on television.

"If Judge Judy were to operate in the state of Utah, she'd probably be in trouble really quickly and she probably wouldn't hold her position very long," Graves-Robertson said. "We don't tell people to 'shut up.' We don't do those kinds of things."

Her visit was part of a program run by The HistoryMakers, a Chicago-based nonprofit that promotes the contributions of African-Americans to United States History.

In 1999, The HistoryMakers launched a video archive in which black Americans share their personal stories. And for the past six years, the organization has placed HistoryMakers from each state in local schools for an annual back-to-school event.

Graves-Robertson is one of 10 HistoryMakers in Utah, including Joyce Gray, Utah's first African-American school principal.

"I've been on the bench for 17 years, just about, and it has been a fabulous job," Graves-Robertson said.

She spoke to students about the daily life of a judge, from making sure that trials proceed smoothly to issuing bench warrants and imposing sentences.

"Sometimes I do have to send people to jail but I try very hard not to do that," she said.

She also told students about the security in a courtroom, like the bullet-proof bench she sits behind.

"I am lucky that I've never had anybody shoot and I have not tried to test it out," she said.

Graves-Robertson graduated from Salt Lake City's West High School, and later worked for Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch when he was Utah's junior senator.

She said she was motivated to study law after being involved with the NAACP and seeing what lawyers and judges accomplished within the civil rights movement.

"I knew that by being an attorney I could have some real effect on what happens in this country," she said.

Nibley Park Elementary Principal Frances Battle described Graves-Robertson as one of her "very best friends."

Battle said she sees Graves-Robertson not as just a judge, but also as a person who genuinely cares about helping others.

"One of the things that really impresses me about her is that she really works with the community," Battle said. "She does not mind getting her hands dirty."

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