Raphaelson wants to be more than a judge

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By Christina Dey

After spending 20 years as a lawyer, Sheri Raphaelson of Tierra Amarilla, said she felt honored to be appointed to the position of First District Judge by Gov. Richardson.

“All I have to worry about is the law,” she said.

Raphaelson spoke to the Los Alamos Democratic Party Central Committee on Thursday about her career before her appointment in March and her career since.

Before the appointment, Raphaelson had her own one-woman law firm in Española, as a criminal defense lawyer.

She began to take on civil cases and now as a judge said she is glad she did because half of her cases are civil. She said that it “worked out to be the perfect background.”

Besides her career as a lawyer Raphaelson is one of 40 listed midwives in the state. After graduating from college with a degree in sociology she didn’t really know what she wanted to do with her life.

She said that she had heard about midwifery and was interested, but made a more practical decision to apply to law school. She thought if she didn’t get into law school, she would find out what it took to become a midwife.

As it turned out, Raphaelson got into law school and didn’t think about midwifery again until she was working in Boston as a hearing examiner.

She said that the judge that she was working for wanted her to throw a case and was told that if she didn’t, she would lose her job.

She ended up signing the new opinion, but couldn’t stand it and quit. This experience soured the law for her, and it was then that she thought again about midwifery.

So, she went to midwifery school after all and was the “only lawyer in midwife classes.”

Eventually, she realized that she wasn’t going to be able to pay the bills as just a midwife. In Española she ran a midwifery practice along with her law practice for 15 years. She said that midwifery was “far more satisfying than being a lawyer.”

As a judge she no longer has time to deliver babies, but she doesn’t want to give it up entirely.

She spoke about a trip to Uganda for a month. She worked as a midwife in a hospital where the mothers who came in to give birth had to bring in everything from the sterile gloves to the shot given after birth to prevent hemorrhaging.

Raphaelson said she hopes to take more trips like the trip to Uganda to help those in areas that need it most.

She said she hopes to be elected in 2010 to keep her position as judge in the District Court.