Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Blog

By Firas Suqi
Spring Intern, 2014

Sherrie Mikhail Miday’s bid for Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge aims to set a historic milestone in the Arab American community, as she strives to become the first Arab American of Coptic Egyptian descent to be an elected judge. In Ohio’s most populous region, encompassing the entire Cleveland metropolitan area, Cuyahoga County is home to one of the largest Coptic communities in the U.S. It is also the county with the largest Arab American population in the state.

“I think it’s time that the Coptic community is represented in the political process. It’s unique in that we’re children of relatively recent immigrants and our parents came here to give us a future that they couldn’t give us back in Egypt. Being a minority in our homeland really restricted the opportunities my family had, and us as children would have had if we stayed.”

The total Arab American population of Coptic Egyptian descent numbers around 350,000, yet the community has played passive role in the political life until Miday’s decision to run for office. “I’ve already had a couple of Coptic Egyptian Americans in law school reach out to me  who were so excited that someone with their same background was testing the waters and paving the path. It’s really exciting and such an honor for me,” said Miday.

Setting a positive example and paving a path in the Arab American community is something Miday credits to her father, Father Mikhail Edward Mikhail, the 8th Coptic orthodox priest sent to the U.S. by by the late H.H. Pope Shenouda III. “Children tend follow some sort of example seen in their parents, and follow in those footsteps. That’s what I’m doing. My father was a pioneer,” said Miday when citing her influences to run for office. “He’s been such an example for me, and I feel like I’m following in his footsteps in becoming a [hopeful] public servant.”

Miday’s background and her pioneering efforts just scrape the surface of her community service. She’s previously served on the Board of Directors for The Edna House, a community-driven support and rehabilitation center for alcoholic women, in addition to serving on St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church’s Board of Directors as Secretary and Legal Advisor.

When discussing what her role as a common pleas judge would be like, Miday said, “public servants forget what it’s like to be a member of the community because they’re so isolated from it. I always want to keep that at the forefront of my mind – how my orders will affect the lives of the people that stand in front of me.”

Cuyahoga County has the largest court system in Ohio, with 34 judges serving on the Common Pleas bench. Miday brings a fresh voice from her experience as a private attorney in the community, in addition to her service as a judicial staff attorney for the Honorable Judge Ann T. Mannen of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, and as Assistant Prosecutor for the City of Cleveland.

“The court system has a lot of wasted resources, and people often feel victimized by the courts,” she said. “When people think negatively of the court system, it all goes back to human dignity and respecting everyone that steps foot into court.”

Miday has plans to better accommodate the court schedule to the schedules of those who are to appear in front of a judge. “A lot of the time people required to appear in person and the judge doesn’t even see them. Or people show up at 9am when the court doesn’t take their case until 11am.” Additionally, she aspires to address the courts responsibility of comprehensive rehabilitation. By linking the courts to the primary care system, Miday believes that she can reduce the amount of repeat offenders appearing before the Common Pleas Court.

“I’m ready to hit the ground running from day one. I just need to focus on getting elected first.”

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