Linda M. Salafia has an enviable track record. In her 25 years as the judge of the Norwich Probate Court in Connecticut, only one of her rulings has ever been overturned on an appeal to Superior Court. And that time, the decision was flipped on a “technicality,” Salafia said. “I missed that a doctor in the case didn’t live in Connecticut, as he was required to do,” she said.

Salafia’s reversal rate would make any judge proud. The fact that she never went to law school, let alone toiled as a practicing attorney, makes it all the more remarkable, some would say.