Stanley and Sharon King became a civil rights power couple in the years since they met
Stanley and Sharon King built their relationship on coincidences, a shared love of justice and the adage that opposite personalities attract.
Their romance started with a chance encounter back in 1992 when Stanley King went to do the most mundane task: checking his mail. That moment led him into the path of the woman who would change his life and become his partner in fighting for civil rights.
“We bumped into each other at the student mailboxes and started talking. I noticed she had an accent, so I inquired about where she was from. She told me she was from Trinidad, and since my parents are from St. Thomas, we struck up a conversation around that similarity, and then the rest is kind of history.”
Sharon King, who at the time was a second-year student in Camden at Rutgers Law School, found him charming and intrigued by his sense of humor and easygoing energy. Their connection grew as they learned about the similarities that surrounded their lives.
“We both lived in Brooklyn around the same time, just a couple blocks away from each other when I was in junior high school. We ended up going to the same high school, Brooklyn Tech, which is a specialized high school in New York, although not at the same time. We even have aunts and sisters with the same name. You can’t tell me that’s not written in the stars,” Stanley King recalls.
“We just had so much in common, so instinctively we connected and a friendship developed and, ultimately, a relationship developed from that,” Sharon King states.
A few short years after Sharon King graduated in 1993 and Stanley King graduated in 1994, the couple married and brought together their blended family of five kids before having two more. In 1999, they founded King & King Law, a firm they ran together for 22 years. Initially focused on personal injury, the firm moved to cases surrounding employment, constitutional law and civil rights, including police misconduct and excessive force.
They built a reputation as prominent civil rights attorneys in South Jersey and received a prestigious award from the Camden County Bar Foundation. They were recognized for having won million-dollar settlements for victims and families of those killed or injured in violent encounters with law enforcement.
“We've been fortunate to represent some clients who otherwise may not have received representation. Our clients were not people of wealth, so we took a lot of contingent cases and that way we were able to represent plaintiffs who felt that they had been wronged and had their rights violated. It's gratifying to be able to serve these people and to make an impact in their lives,” Sharon King states.
The mix of professional and personal also had its difficulties – not always agreeing on the best course of action could lead to some disagreements. Regardless of the case, they always made sure to prioritize their personal time and not discuss cases at home as much as possible.
“Practicing law, especially litigating, is difficult. It can be extremely burdensome and taxing. I think that the type of work that we did taking on police misconduct and wrongful death cases, I have no doubt that being African American in that space probably made it a little bit more difficult to get things resolved. But you know, that's the life we chose and thank goodness we were able to sustain ourselves, our relationship and provide a service to the clients who chose to seek our representation,” Stanley King says.
As of April 2021, Sharon was appointed as a United States Magistrate Judge for the District of New Jersey, where she sits in the Camden vicinage. Stanley joined Javerbaum, Wurgaft, Hicks, Kahn, Wikstrom & Sinins as partner in December 2022, in addition to serving as a part-time lecturer for Rutgers Law School in Camden. While their work is no longer done together, the list of reasons they have remained together all these years grows longer.
“I remember when we were both in the same "Professional Responsibility" class and at the end of the final exam just going out to eat, unwind and celebrate the end of the semester. Over the years, we’ve had plenty of things to celebrate together, but have also been able to lean on each other to get through the hard times,” Sharon says. In 2014, the couple lost their 14-year-old son, who died suddenly from an undetected heart condition.
Both Stanley and Sharon admit that, in their case, opposites most certainly attract.
“I think her personality type melds well with mine. I'm more Type A and she's a bit more reserved, and I think that goes well with me because it forces me to stop and reflect and think about my position sometimes. She's been a very good influence on me,” Stanley says.
“He brings a good sense of balance to my life. He would force me to do something fun as opposed to just doing the work all the time, and I think that's needed in my life. He fills that spot perfectly," Sharon says.