With a deep desire to become an immigration lawyer, Melanie Cradle had an opportunity while in law school to work on a case that impacted her life forever.

While a senior at Seton Hall University School of Law in 1998, Cradle represented Cecelia Jeffrey, who served several years in prison for transporting drugs from her native Liberia to the United States. Cradle, with help from the law school’s clinic, did a lot of asylum matters while in college. None meant more than the Jeffrey case. Those who know and work with the judge say it heralded the start of a career that showed she was on the path to becoming a caring, respected and valued member of the state’s judiciary.

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