Sisters in law: Sisters are judges in Prince George’s County

Judges DaNeeka Varner Cotton and Donnaka Varner Lewis, both sisters, together with their brother, Dr. Geoffrey Mount Varner, an emergency room physician. (Courtesy Varner Family)


WTOP is featuring women who make a difference in the community during Women’s History Month.

Two sisters are, quite literally, sisters in law. They are judges who sit on the bench in Prince George’s County, Maryland, who carry a special connection.

DaNeeka Varner Cotton is an associate judge for the Prince George’s Circuit Court, 7th Judicial Circuit, while her sister, Donnaka Varner Lewis, is an associate judge for the District Court of Maryland, District 5 in Prince George’s County.

They are the first and only sister judges to be sitting on the bench in Maryland.

The Varner family includes three children born to George Mount and Linda Varner Mount. Varner Cotton is the oldest of the three, followed by brother, Dr. Geoffrey Mount Varner, an emergency room physician, then sister Varner Lewis.

For their mother, a retired Agriculture Department employee who received a doctorate in education with an emphasis in personnel management, it was important to instill her children with the desire to work toward their goals at an early age.

“One of the most important lessons I taught and demonstrated to my children — even when you confront difficult situations in life, you find the courage to power through them to achieve your goals,” Varner Mount said.

All three children received their undergraduate degree from Hampton University, a historically Black college in Virginia. Both sisters received their Juris Doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Law.

For Varner Cotton, becoming a judge had been a lifelong dream ever since elementary school, when a female judge came to visit her school.

“I wanted to be a judge before I wanted to be a lawyer,” Varner Cotton said.

They both credit their mother with much of their success.

“She instilled in us the importance of hard work, the importance of education, the importance of family, the importance of our community,” said Varner Cotton.

On being sister judges, Varner Cotton said, “It’s so nice to walk into the courthouse and have my sister here too.”

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant is an Anchor and Reporter for WTOP. Over the past 20 years, Stephanie has worked in several markets, including Baltimore, Washington, Houston and Charleston, holding positions ranging from newscaster to morning show co-host.

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