Frequently Asked Questions
Why am I running?
I have dedicated my 22-year legal career to public service in Monroe County, a place that I am proud to call my home. I have witnessed how diligence, dedication, and compassion have a positive impact on those who come into contact with the court system. I have the knowledge and experience to apply the law to unique factual situations, devise creative solutions to legal issues, and recognize the human component in each case. I would like the opportunity to bring a fresh perspective to the bench and use my skill set to continue making a positive impact on my community, but in a different way than I am now. If elected Judge, I pledge to serve with the same dedication and integrity that I have demonstrated as a practicing trial attorney.
I live in the city. Can I vote for a county judge? Do the judges cover the entire county?
Yes and yes. Each judge in Monroe County represents the citizens in the entire county. As long as you live in Monroe County, you may vote in each of the judicial races. This is different from a city council election where only those residents who live in the city, and live in a particular district, may vote for the council person running for election in that district.
How are the courts in Monroe County arranged?
Monroe County is unique. It has one circuit court with nine divisions. Four of those courts focus exclusively on criminal cases. Another four courts focus on civil matters. And, the remaining court handles juvenile cases. Each of the nine judges make up the Board of Judges (BOJ). The BOJ makes various decisions about how the courts function, including which judges handle what types of cases.
If a court currently handles civil (or criminal) cases, does that mean that the judge newly elected to that court will necessarily hear civil
(or criminal) cases?
No. The court assignments are decided by the Monroe County Board of Judges. Those assignments are made based on the background, experience, seniority and preferences of the individual judges.
Is there any particular training or education that is required before someone may become a judge?
No. The only requirement is that the person be an attorney. That said, as a judge, regardless of whether your focus is civil or criminal cases, you may be called upon at various points to preside over a jury trial. If you have tried many cases to a jury before, you have become proficient in the use of the trial rules, rules of evidence, jury rules and the rules of criminal procedure. That knowledge and experience ensures that the jury trial process runs as smoothly as possible and we can have confidence in the result.
Which judicial seats are up for election in Monroe County in 2020?
There are three judicial seats on the ballot in 2020. One seat is currently occupied by Judge Valeri Haughton. Another seat is currently held by Judge Judith Benckart. She was appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb to serve out the remaining time of Judge Kenneth Todd’s term after he retired early from the bench. The third seat is occupied by Judge Elizabeth Cure. Her term is up at the end of 2020, and she is not seeking re-election.