Posted by Arab American Institute on November 01, 2016 in Blog
Sherrie Mikhail Miday is running for Cuyahoga County Commons Pleas Court Judge. You can learn more about her here: midayforjudge.com
Tell us a bit about yourself and why you decided to run for office?
My decision to run for judge stems from my interest in civic life which began at a very early age, specifically from my family's devotion to God and the Egyptian community. This devotion led my parents to immigrate to the U.S. and settle in East Cleveland. My father was the 8th Coptic Orthodox priest ordained to serve a growing Coptic congregation in the U.S. Eventually, the church—started St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church—found a home in Seven Hills, Ohio, where I live now with my husband and three children.
I decided to run for judge because I am the most qualified candidate and I believe that I will make a positive contribution to the bench. The court, in which I am running for, is in Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s largest county. The court is considered a state court and handles the most heinous crimes and largest civil cases.
Much of my experience is in the very court that I am seeking, Common Pleas Court, and I have both criminal and civil experience.
I have worked for a small and large private law firm and for a Common Pleas Court judge. I have experience working closely with the police when I served as Assistant Prosecutor. I also bring experience of knowing what makes a good judge by currently representing clients in eight surrounding counties before Common Pleas judges.
My excellent reputation as an attorney and strong legal experience, along with my educational background (graduate of John Carroll University and Case Western Reserve School of Law) make me the best candidate for judge.
What’s your immigration story and why are you motivated to serve?
I’m Egyptian. I was born in Cleveland, two years after my parents moved from Cairo. My father’s nearly 40 years of service is a tremendous inspiration to me, my husband and our three children. He could not do it, however, without the support of my mother, whose love for her church, community and family is incredible.
My childhood was spent in the back of a station wagon traveling from city to city throughout the Midwest. We travelled to cities such as Youngstown, Toledo, Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, among others. These times are among the most memorable of my childhood. Like the old-fashioned traveling doctors, my father displayed those virtues of a tireless, unselfish commitment in the service of others. He taught me and my brother to serve with love in everything we do.
My parents believed that education was paramount to our future. I was raised in Parma, where my father started St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church. I am a proud graduate of Holy Family School. I graduated from Our Lady of Elms High School in Akron and my brother attended St. Ignatius. Both of us chose John Carroll University (JCU), located in Cleveland.
The Jesuit tradition of academic excellence and service to others for the common good greatly enriched my life. JCU helped me further develop the strong character molded within the Jesuit tradition of integrating faith and culture. The search of truth and justice, two core Jesuit values, led me to law school.
What issues are you focused on addressing, and why?
I am running on a platform of equal justice, respect, impartiality and efficiency.
The greatest issue that the judiciary faces is the continued rising costs of imprisonment, overcrowded prisons and the disenfranchisement of specific populations, namely African Americans. Let me be clear. I hold firm that if a defendant is found guilty of committing heinous crimes, that defendant should be sentenced accordingly. There are some people who should not be walking our streets now and or ever again. I will be a tough judge, taking a zero tolerance approach toward violent criminals. Yet the courts must understand and participate in resolving a judicial system that has put more people behind bars than any other county in the world. The ramifications on society are devastating. The most glaring evidence is that we’re spending more money on prisons than educating children. I know firsthand. As a mother of three, we need to invest in this country’s future: our children. I have an excellent relationship with many of the judges and will work with them in the on-going efforts on criminal justice reform.
As important as the criminal docket is the civil docket. All too often, the civil docket in our Common Pleas Court takes a back seat to the criminal docket. I understand why and how this happens, but it should not. When civil attorneys are sent to the staff attorney on a consistent basis, there is a problem. A staff attorney's role is to assist the judge with the management of the civil docket, not to run the civil docket. The trial court judge assigned to the case should have an active role in the case. The attorney should feel comfortable knowing that the judge knows the issues of their case and is ready to step in when the parties need the court. The judge should preside over settlement conferences and make herself available when the parties need intervention. I understand that the delays caused by motions that remain pending create an undue burden on civil attorneys. I understand that fruitless pre-trials and unnecessary requirements for in-person appearances of the parties are a waste of time and resources. The actions or inactions of the court directly affect the livelihood of the attorneys and the parties. The court needs to remain cognizant of this fact.
My courtroom will be run with great efficiency in both civil and criminal matters. I will uphold with honor and distinction John Adams’ conviction of a “government of laws, and not of men” by rendering decisions with equal justice, respect, and impartiality in accordance to the law. Our government should be based on the written law and not on the unpredictable will of the elite. This fundamental truth underlying this nation’s rule of law can only hold true if we have the right judges. I believe I am the best candidate and am working very hard to earn the privilege to serve the residents of this county as a Judge.
What’s your message to Arab American voters this election cycle?
My message to Arab-American voters is to vote and stop settling for the status quo and organize. I am the first Egyptian American woman running for judge and would be the first Egyptian American elected to the bench in United States history. Trying to make history has come at a cost. I lost in a close race in 2014 and a factor in that loss was bigotry. I was called an “Arab terrorist”; accused of bringing Sharia law into the courtroom; my Arab-American supporters’ last names were associated with ISIS. The general response from the Arab-American community was to brush it off, not complain, as these bigoted attacks are not new. The message was keep your head down and do your best to win. Even though I lost, we ran a strong campaign. I was proud.
In contemplating running again in 2016, I reminded myself that my interest in civic life is about making today better than yesterday and building a brighter future for our children. I vowed to fight back if faced with another bigoted campaign. I would not allow this bigotry to go unnoticed or fail to hold to account those pushing it.
Once again, I am being attacked. Voters are being told that I am Egyptian and "don’t share American values” and other fearmongering rhetoric. I am confident that I will win, but I am concerned that these attacks will work.