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Sweeney runs for district judge in southern York County
While Lindy Sweeney was growing up, she spent most of her summers working on her grandparents' farm on Strawberry Road in Shewsbury Township. She was deeply ingrained in the community from a young age between that, her baby-sitting jobs for neighbors and her work as a YWCA camp counselor.
Now 59, she's hoping to continue that work as the Shrewsbury area's district judge.
Sweeney has spent 40 years as a paralegal, learning the ins and outs of the court system. She said she believes her experience, which she gained while working with attorney Robert Lerman, will help her if she becomes district judge of southern York County. She said she has done much of the work that associate attorneys do.
"My 40-year legal career was not only broad-based, but I was able to work with an attorney that required I learn to do all substantive legal work," she said.
'Restoring integrity': Sweeney has considered running for district judge before. She intended to run in 2005, so she became certified by the Minor Judiciary Education Board around that time. The board certifies those who aren't attorneys but wish to run for a district judge position.
She ended up continuing her work with Lerman until she retired in 2015. Even then, she had no plans of running until former District Judge Jeffrey Scott Joy was removed from his court duties over charges of official oppression, indecent assault and two counts of harassment over allegations that he groped a woman who had appeared in his courtroom.
Joy pleaded no contest last year to two counts of official oppression, and the other counts were dismissed. As part of his sentence, he was barred from seeking judicial or law enforcement office again.
Sweeney said that after the incident, community members and friends began asking her to run. She said she spent about four months trying to decide whether she should.
"I decided this was too important and that I needed to do what I could to restore the integrity of our office here in southern York County," she said.
She recently became re-certified by the Minor Judiciary Education Board to begin her campaign, which she says she will completely fund herself.
Sweeney said she feels one of the most important characteristics a judge needs to have is fairness with all people, something she's hoping to bring to the position. She talked about a letter her son Josh wrote her when he was 10 years old. In it, he said he admired her because she always treated people equally. She has the letter framed on her desk as a reminder to always do so.
"I really strived all my life to do that — I think it's one of the hallmarks of being a judge," Sweeney said. "I've always felt that everyone's entitled to equal opportunity at justice."
Volunteer: Sweeney spends her free time volunteering with organizations and golfing with her husband and son.
She also used to volunteer extensively with hospice organizations, where she helped individuals with their legal troubles and with end-of-life papers for patients. She once helped a veteran get buried in Arlington Cemetery after he lost his military discharge papers, which are required for burial in the military cemetery.
Her experiences in legal work and volunteering in her community have prepared her well for the judicial position, she said. She's seen a lot in her 59 years and hopes it will make her the best candidate.
"I think that one of the most important things a judge should do is be respectful to everyone," she said. "Everyone deserves that, regardless of circumstances."
The magisterial district Sweeney is running for covers the boroughs of Jacobus, Loganville, Glen Rock, Shrewsbury, New Freedom and Railroad, as well as Springfield and Shrewsbury townships. Senior District Judge Nancy Edie currently presides over the office.