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Judicial candidate: Sheridan Hawley

Sheridan Hawley

Age: 44

Family: Married; 2 children.

Hometown: Hugo

Education: Law degree from University of California, Hastings (San Francisco, CA); North Central University (Minneapolis).

Work experience: I have worked as a prosecutor, as a public defender and in private practice. My 18 years of experience as an attorney includes criminal, family, juvenile, and civil cases.

1. What makes you the best candidate?

My courtroom experience is extensive and varied, rather than focused on one area of law. I have also run two programs designed to make the court system more efficient. My temperament is well-suited to the judiciary because I am calm and decisive and I believe that judges are public servants. I have experience handling many cases in a single calendar, both as a prosecutor and as a public defender, so I understand the task of keeping a calendar moving, which prevents the system from grinding to a halt.

2. How would you as a judge suggest the court system respond to limited or reduced state funding?

The court system needs to continue embracing alternatives to litigation. Many counties have started programs to help resolve divorce issues early in a case. These programs benefit the court system and the public, because people who make their own decisions about their divorce are generally more satisfied with the outcome than those who require a judge to make the decisions for them. There are also pilot programs underway to offer mediation in child protection and conciliation court cases, thus reducing the amount of time spent in court.

3. Do you believe judicial candidates should be allowed to discuss political views and be involved in non-judicial politics?

Judges are citizens and entitled to be involved in the politics that affect their lives. However, political affiliations should not be part of judicial elections. Judges should not be beholden to anyone or any group. Each decision made by a judge must be based solely on the facts of the case and the law that applies. There is no room on the bench for a judge to decide cases based on the agenda of a political group. Because judges apply but do not make laws, judges who are in debt to a political party undermine the checks and balances system.