Editor’s note: Shaffer Cormell and Tim Hollenhorst are running for a seat on the California
Superior Court in Riverside County. Superior Court judges can be elected, as in this case, or appointed by the governor. The terms are six years and they must stand for re-election. Most often, sitting judges are not challenged. Cormell and Hollenhorst are competing for a judgeship (seat no. 2) where the incumbent retired last year. Fourteen other Riverside County judges have terms that expire this year, but have no challengers.
Judicial candidates can be interviewed during the campaign and often appear at candidate forums. However, unlike a candidate for legislative or executive office, they are discouraged from commenting on specific issues, such as marijuana dispensaries or sanctuary laws, because these issues may come before then once on the bench.
Superior court judges preside over every type of trial proceeding from criminal and civil, to family law to contracts.
Shaffer Cormell is a private attorney, but he emphasized that during his 26-year career, he has handled civil, family and criminal cases, but is primarily a defense attorney now. He has three law offices: Blythe, Indio and Banning.
Cormell was born in and grew up in Blythe. His father was a teacher, but during the summers, he worked at a gas station where, at a young age, Shaffer began to serve the public.
Today, he is married with two teenage children.
His earliest memories include his dream of becoming an attorney. With five siblings, he had many opportunities to referee altercations and he did.
“I’ve always looked at both sides of the story. Even with my siblings, I’d listen to both sides,” he said.
And it’s this ability to balance that has made his career successful. “I’ve worked hard for my clients and try to do the best I could for them; go the extra mile to represent them.”
His website indicates endorsements from several law enforcement officers, the Blythe Police and several Superior Court judges.
Now he would like to apply his decades of experience to serving from the judicial bench. This goal was re-enforced during his opportunities to serve as a judge pro tem.
“In 26 years, I’ve seen absolutely venerable judges,” Cormell said. “I’ve learned to be decisive and make decisions and explain my reasoning.
“The people of Riverside County deserve a judge who is committed to justice, integrity, fairness and their safety,” he stated. “Even if I rule against an attorney, I’m responsible to treat them with respect as I deliver a decision.”
Too often, Cormell has seen judges act without a sense that they also are public servants. He said this will guide him while on the bench. “You treat people how you would like to be treated,” he noted. “The best judges adhere to this behavior. The Golden Rule makes people respect you and guides how you handle cases.
“My job as a judge is to identify the facts, follow the law and make decisions independent of the victim, the defendant, the prosecutor or the defense attorney,” Cormell said. “I’ll take the time to talk with people. I want to do this and explain the law to juries, not race through the calendar.
“My Dad instilled the belief to leave the world a better place than you went into. And as a judge, I have that chance,” he said.
There are many courts — mental health or drug — that offer opportunities to deal with today’s issues, Cormell noted.