Voter's Guide, 2020 Fall Elections, Louisiana
Position Appeals Court Judges: 5th Circuit, 2nd Dist., Division A
NameSharrolyn Jackson Miles

Campaign Information

Campaign Web Site

Bio Information

Party AffiliationDemocrat
ProfessionFormer prosecutor, appellate clerk and corporate defense attorney
Present Employer / positionLogos Dunamis Law - Private Practice & Homeschooling Parent
Length of residence in Jurisdiction16
List of educational institutions and degreesTulane School of Architecture, BArch, MArch
Southern University Law Center, JD, Magna Cum Laude
Prior elected and appointed positionsCode Enforcement Hearing Officer
Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet (Past President & Board Member)
Association of Women Attorneys (Past Board Member)
Civic involvement and affiliationsLSBA Ethics Advisory Service Committee, Publications Subcommittee
Celebration Church - River Parishes
The Answer is Travel (f/k/a Louisiana Traveling Homeschoolers)
NOLA Homeschoolers

Questions specific to the position

1. Describe your appellate practice trial experience as an attorney. I have done appellate work as a corporate defense attorney for McGlinchey Stafford, PLLC, as a prosecutor under late District Attorney and former 5th Circuit Court Judge, Thomas Daley, and as a private practitioner. In these roles I gained a significant amount of experience in writing and preparing writs and appeals as well as doing the necessary research and writing required to clearly and precisely present my clients' positions to the various courts of appeal.
2. Describe your experience researching, analyzing and writing judicial opinions. I have worked for the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal as the senior judicial law clerk to Honorable Sandra Cabrina Jenkins where my day to day duties consisted of reviewing and analyzing party briefs, court records, and staff attorney recommendations; preparing bench memoranda in preparation for oral arguments; attending and preparing outlines of positions stated during oral arguments; preparing civil and criminal judicial majority, concurring and dissenting opinions, writ dispositions, orders, and court memoranda; researching and verifying litigant positions; shepardizing cited authority; supervising office staff; and advising on recommended courses of action regarding pending litigation based on thorough legal analysis of same.
3. In a June 8th letter, Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Johnson acknowledged "the part we each play in maintaining a system that leaves many of our fellow citizens, especially our African American citizens, feeling that they cannot breathe." Do you agree that the Louisiana criminal justice system disproportionately impacts African Americans? In your role reviewing cases, what can you, as an Appeals Court Judge, do to address this situation?" I wholeheartedly agree with Justice Johnson's assessment of the role that each of us in the legal profession should play in maintaining a system that is fair and just, and I have long admired her for consistently and boldly taking a stance on many issues that disproportionately impact the African American community in Louisiana. In fact, just in observing the disparities in my own environment growing up, it is an issue I have been passionate about since I was a kid and have always taken a special interest in reading, researching and writing about. I have always known that as an attorney, I wanted to be able to impact change on a real and meaningful level, especially at the youth and young adult level where I know the criminal justice system is statutorily more geared toward reform; therefore as the Executive Editor of the Southern University Law Review I wrote an article entitled, The Administration of Justice: Disparate Treatment and Effect on Black Male Youth in Louisiana’s Juvenile Justice System, 30 S.U.L.Rev. 373 (2003). It was while serving as president of the Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, an organization with a long-standing commitment to addressing issues that impact African American communities, that I decided I wanted to leave the field of corporate law so that I could instead work on a real and meaningful level with the youth in my local community and ultimately decided to step into the role of prosecutor so that I could creatively impact change and the perception of law enforcement from the inside.

In between working as a prosecutor under two different administrations, I had the unique opportunity to work as an appellate law clerk for an appellate court judge who shared many of my same concerns and passion. At the time, the public defenders in Orleans kept addressing the issue of non-unanimous juries in Louisiana, which at the time, was one of only two states in the nation adhering to this policy. In assisting the court with its opinion, I knew the power of the pen and what lawyers call, 'dicta.' I appreciated that although the court was bound to analyze the assignment of error under the law as it then stood, that did not prohibit the court from giving the issue the attention and research it deserved, or opining on whether it appeared unjust.* It was also during that time, and while at the same time comparing decisions coming out of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeal with what we were doing, that I decided to one day seek a position on the 5th Circuit. That law has now changed in Louisiana. Those are just small examples of the roles that each of us, from the law student, to litigator, to the law clerk, to the court itself, can play in maintaining a system that can leave every person, regardless of race, gender, nationality, sexuality or wealth, feeling free to breathe, knowing their voice has been heard. We owe it to our communities.

I like to explain to the community that the appellate courts operate slightly like juries do. Cases always come before a panel of judges who ideally will be made of judges from different walks of life who have had different legal and life experiences which they will undoubtedly draw from while striving to be fair and neutral. As a mom of seven black children, including two stepsons, just the term 'I can't breathe,' holds a unique meaning to me. I, too, am a mom who has had a child, my stepson, beaten on tape by an off duty police officer. I, too, have had to sit in a prosecutor's office and told that they would not treat the case in the same way as other cases because the perpetrator was an officer of the law. That was a very hard pill to swallow not only as a mom, but also as a person in law enforcement at the time, prosecuting people everyday who usually look like me and have done far less. It was also a hard pill for me to swallow as a person who believes in the integrity of law enforcement and officers of the court, and that we should be held to a higher levels of integrity and reasonableness, not lowered ones.

As a judge on the 5th Circuit, I would apply the law fairly and justly concerning every single person or business that comes before me, and where the law, itself, seems unfair or unjust based on history or public policy, I will still follow the law because that is what the job requires, but I will also give litigants and the public the dignity and respect of carefully researching, analyzing and addressing the injustices I see with my pen, knowing change is a slow process that has to start somewhere, one step at a time.

*See, State v. Jackson, 115 So.3d 1155 (La. 5 Cir. App. 2013), wherein Judge Jenkins, writing for the court, states, 'Although the defendant makes a well-reasoned and compelling argument in support of his position that there are disparities inherent in non-unanimous juries that should be remedied, this Court is constrained by the most recent pronouncement of the Louisiana Supreme Court....'
4. What are your views as a judicial candidate about streamlining procedures and preventing lawsuit abuse, while also ensuring access to the courts, particularly for lower income and indigent parties? I do not believe in doing anything that would limit a party's access to the court. I do however believe, possibly more than anything else, in the power of education. So many people and businesses do not fully understand their legal rights or the function of the courts at each level. I understand that if more people in the public were better educated about the law itself, changes to the law, and even things they may be able to do on their own when they cannot find afford a lawyer, a lot of issues will be resolved more easily and quickly and in turn, the court system would ideally operate more efficiently in the long term. One example of this is what what the Supreme Court has been doing to make forms more easily available to the public. In addition, some courts have pro bono attorneys available on hand to answer standard legal questions for pro se litigants. One thing I will try to do strive to make sure my own opinions are written in a way that are easier for the general public to read by cutting down some of the legal jargon so potential litigants themselves can weight the pros and cons and likely outcome of bringing cases up on appeal and potentially resolve matters more amicably where the potential outcomes are more clear. Personally, I will also be active in the community, talking about some of the legal process, legal developments and the courts so that young people and the community at large will be better informed and more savvy in their approach to litigation.