Emily Sheldrick was sworn in Friday as Clark County Superior Court’s newest judge.
Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Sheldrick to the bench in December. She is filling a new judicial seat that the Legislature recently approved.
The investiture was carried out largely over Zoom. Sheldrick and her family were present in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Scott Collier, who led the ceremony, but nearly 20 other court officials listened and watched over the internet.
After reciting an oath of service, Sheldrick’s two children helped her slip on a black judge’s robe to applause.
Sheldrick thanked all of her professional colleagues and family but dedicated the day and her ascent to the bench to her parents.
She said her parents are “tireless advocates for equality and justice.”
“They instilled in me a desire to do the right thing, make a difference and serve others. They taught me to care about the world, my community and my family. They taught me that no matter your race, your gender, your religion, your ethnicity, your sexual orientation or your ability, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and humanity,” Sheldrick said.
Sheldrick had served as a deputy prosecutor in the county’s civil division since 2014; she held the position of chief civil deputy since January 2018. In that role she advised the Clark County Council and other county officials, representing the county in litigation and labor arbitrations, according to the governor’s office.
Before joining the prosecutor’s office, she worked in private practice advising and litigating employment and business matters in Vancouver starting in 2000.
Sheldrick has volunteered as a YMCA Mock Trial Team coach at Columbia River High School since 2013. She is also active with the local chapter of Washington Women Lawyers and has served in various leadership roles.
Department 11 at the Clark County Courthouse was approved by the Legislature in 2019. The need for a new judge was made apparent the year before, when a state agency calculated that the county’s court system needed “1.9” additional judges to handle its caseload, Collier said.
Former Superior Court Judge Bernard Veljacic, who was recently sworn in to the state Court of Appeals, Division II, said he recommended Sheldrick to the prosecutor’s office and was disappointed he wouldn’t have the opportunity to work closely with her, because of his change in jobs.
“She seems to me like someone who doesn’t rush to judgment. That’s a great demeanor for the bench,” Veljacic said.
Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik said Sheldrick had been a part of his office’s action to reform committee, created shortly after the death of George Floyd on May 25. It would have been easy and acceptable for the civil division to step aside in those efforts, but she did not, Golik said.
“She brings an intimate desire to seek justice for all,” Golik said.