Gilchrist swearing in its first female county judge


Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 3:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 8:56 p.m.

Friday will be a historic day for Sheree Lancaster and Gilchrist County — she will formally become the first woman to serve as county judge in Gilchrist and possibly the first female county judge across a wide breadth of North Florida except for Alachua County.

An investiture ceremony for Lancaster, who was elected in the fall, will be Friday at 4 p.m. in the Gilchrist County Courthouse.

"It's historical," Lancaster said. "All of the small, rural counties have never had a female judge. I'm a pioneer woman."

Lancaster was born in Gainesville and raised in Levy County, and she has lived in Gilchrist County since 1982. She earned her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Florida and has practiced law since 1986, mostly in her own practice.

While she practiced general civil law, Lancaster was a longtime attorney for the Gilchrist County School Board and also represented the Levy County School Board.

Lancaster also served as a child support hearing officer for the 8th Judicial Circuit in Gilchrist and Levy counties for more than 14 years, making recommendations to the circuit bench in child support cases. She was a civil traffic hearing officer in Alachua County, presiding over civil traffic infractions.

The election was her first attempt at a judgeship, a position to which she has long aspired.

"I wanted to be a judge since I became an attorney. That was my goal — to be Gilchrist County judge," Lancaster said.

Eighth Circuit Public Defender Stacy Scott, just the second woman to hold her position, said Lancaster is very qualified to hold the position.

"She's fair; she knows the law; she has a great temperament," Scott said. "It's just a double bonus that she's a woman, too."

State Attorney Bill Cervone noted that Lancaster is heavily involved in the community and said she is a good lawyer.

"I would like to say that her being a woman was a non-factor and that she was elected as the best candidate by a majority of the voters," Cervone said.

A member of the Cherry Sink Church of Christ, Lancaster and her husband, Howell, have two sons. Lancaster said they also helped raise a young woman they consider to be a daughter.

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