For eighteen years, California’s three strikes law leveled harsh penalties against repeat felons: anyone with two felony convictions received 25 years to life for committing a third felony. In 2012, Californians voted to change the three strikes law, allowing some of the prisoners sentenced under it to petition for release for time served. Curtis Penn is one of those prisoners. Life of the Law executive producer Nancy Mullane chronicles the day Curtis was released from prison.

What does it take to become a judge? No one starts their legal career as a jurist. First they work as a lawyer advocating for one side of a case over another. But transitioning from lawyer to judge means hearing both sides of a case objectively and then making decisions that carry the weight of the court. In a break from our usual feature format, this week Life of the Law’s Executive Producer, Nancy Mullane talks with James R. Lambden, an Associate Justice on the California Court of Appeal about living a life immersed in the law.