Cleveland and Lincoln County Judge Meredith Shuford, who now boasts her certification as a juvenile court judge for District 27B, plans to continue using her career field to protect the community’s “abused and neglected children,” she told the Times-News earlier this week.
“Fighting for the most vulnerable in our society … has been the highlight of my career in private practice,” she said. “I sought the (juvenile) certification to improve my skills in handling these complex cases.”
Shuford, a veteran of family and business law, personal injury and criminal defense, practiced law in Lincolnton for nearly a decade along with five years as a Guardian ad Litem for mistreated children, before becoming a district court judge in 2006, according to a press release.
She considered herself “well-qualified” for the respectable role because of her natural “patience and temperament to serve the public” and her confidence in presiding over court matters she already dealt with on a daily basis. Shuford also thought it was time for the judiciary to have a Lincoln County representative and is currently one of two.
John W. Smith, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, praised Shuford in the release for her recent accomplishment, thanking her for her “personal commitment” to gaining additional expertise in juvenile matters, an area in which he said cases are “often difficult … to hear.”
The Lincoln County native and Lincolnton High School alumni worked in Charlotte following graduation from North Carolina State University in the early 1990s, and shortly after, obtained her law degree from N.C. Central University.
One year prior to completing her degree, Shuford participated in a specialized education program on child-related matters at the University of Michigan Law School, and upon graduation, wasted no time jumping into juvenile court.
Over the years, she’s sought to apply the law in each case in a way that would ultimately benefit the children and their families, she said.
During the 2½-year certification process, Shuford told the Times-News she studied courses in abuse, neglect and dependency along with juvenile delinquency, substance abuse and child development. Following training, she presided over a certain number of hearings before her certification was completed.
She also routinely interacted with children at a youth detention facility and youth development center.