Pam Nogueira Maneman, a graduate of UW Tacoma (’12) and the UW School of Law (’15), is running for prosecutor in Pacific County, WA. In the midst of her busy schedule working in a private law firm and serving on Grays Harbor County Drug Court, Pacific County Drug Court, and as a City Council member for the City of Raymond – in addition to running her campaign! – Pam was generous enough to answer some questions for us about her passion for law, her career ambitions, and her UW roots.
Originally from Brazil, Pam first came to Pacific County in 2006 as an exchange student, then moved back permanently in 2009, becoming a U.S. citizen. She attended Tacoma Community College from 2010-2011, then entered UW Tacoma in Fall 2011. Her main area of interest was human rights. She speaks highly of PPPA Associate Professor Dr. Michael Forman, saying, “His mentorship allowed me to understand that my passion is for helping others, in whatever way I can. I don’t want to just have a desk job or have a great paycheck at the end of the month. I want to help make my community to be as great as it can be.”
Reflecting on her upbringing, Pam says, “Law has always been a part of my life. It’s been ingrained in my brain from birth. My parents are both attorneys and a little bit of this dream was about following their foot steps… I never thought of doing anything else.”
After graduating UW Tacoma, Pam attended the UW School of Law from 2013-2015, becoming the first student ever to graduate the 3-year law program in just two years. As a UW law student, Pam worked in the Tulalip Tribes Clinic, taking the tribe’s bar exam and practicing as a licensed public defense attorney. “Working at a tribe helped shape my mentality of the justice system,” Pam says. “Tribal law does not often aim at simply punishing the action committed. It aims at fixing the issue that led to this action.”
Since receiving her law degree, Pam has worked in private law firms, mostly doing criminal defense. “Discipline and hard work are what I am good at…. Even now – after school and in a dream job – I get to work some time between 4 and 5 a.m. I enjoy being at my office and helping my clients…. I just truly enjoy being an attorney.” Pam also says her observations of prosecutors while working as a defense attorney have informed her own ambitions for the position. “There are two things that I see missing in Pacific County, which are financial responsibility and human compassion,” she says. “These are not skills that are learned or taught. These are traits. Traits that I bring with me to this position.”
When asked why she would make a good prosecutor for Pacific County, Pam says, “I am young and energetic. I am full of passion and ready to work…. I want to replace current practices to achieve successful, long-term solutions. I do not only want to reduce crime now; I want to reduce recidivism. I do not want to save pennies; I want to save thousands.” If elected, she hopes to reorganize the Prosecutor’s Office and provide better management of staffing and workloads; improve communication among departments to accelerate the pace of hearings and reduce taxpayer costs; enhance the role of therapeutic courts and diversion or rehabilitation in sentencing; encourage harsher sentences for certain felonies; and hire a medical professional to serve as coroner (a position currently staffed by attorneys).
Finally, Pam is clear that she is an attorney and a public servant, not a politician. That can make campaigning for an elected position difficult for her – but she remains confident. “As I start campaigning, I realize that the biggest criticism I receive is that I am a ‘young girl.’ Unfortunately, people perceive my gender and my age as signs of lack of readiness or experience. The reality is I am well-educated, I am well versed in English and Portuguese, I work nearly 15 hour a day, 7 days a week. I have represented criminal defendants with infractions, misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, class C, B, and A felonies. I have volunteered as Pacific County Drug Court panelist for 2.5 years. I have recently been hired by Grays Harbor to be its Drug Court’s defense attorney also. I participate in community events and coalitions. I am a city council member for the City of Raymond. My achievements are a reflection of my efforts. If the only criticism someone has of me is my gender or age, they truly have nothing bad to say at all.”