Judge Sean Delahanty
Judge Sean R. Delahanty is a native of Louisville, Kentucky, who was introduced to the importance and value of equal treatment and opportunity for all citizens through the grass roots work of his parents, Bob and Dolores Delahanty. Judge Delahanty received his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Louisville and his J.D. from Brandeis School of Law. He has been married for 28 years and has two adult children. Following graduation from Brandeis School of Law, he was self-employed as a general law practitioner, representing clients in all areas of practice in state and federal court for 18 years. For 7 of those years he also represented I.U.E. Local 761 as well as members of the union. Judge Delahanty is currently serving his 20th year on the bench as the Jefferson District Court Judge in Division Six and was elected by his colleagues to serve as Chief Judge during the District Court reorganization. He has served on numerous state and judicial commissions and has attended and conducted legal educational seminars, particularly in the areas of combating Opiod Addiction and lethality factors in domestic violence cases. He has volunteered extensively in community matters. Judge Delahanty's experience, legal knowledge and familiarity with the Louisville community and the unique issues facing Louisville are compelling reasons to re-elect him to continue to serve as Jefferson District Court Judge.
1. In your career, have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and wished you had handled a case or legal issue differently? Describe the situation and any lessons you learned from the experience.
Every case that comes before me is different in its own way. The job of a judge is to apply the facts to the law and be decisive. If I know that I have done everything I can to live up to my duty as a Judge, then I do not second guess. However, every case is also a learning experience and there have been times when I worry about particular litigants and the choices that have led them to the courtroom. I'm very aware that my decision in every or any case may affect the rest of the litigant's life.
2. Give an example of a circumstance where you faced an ethical dilemma or problem and explain how you solved it.
Judges are restrained by Canons of Judicial Ethics, just as lawyers are restrained by rules of ethical conduct. The most common ethical dilemma for a judge is whether to recuse on a case due to a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest. At times, a hearing is held to determine whether a conflict exists.
3. What do you believe are the most important qualities of a judge, and how has your professional background and life experience helped you develop those qualities?
The most important qualities for a Judge is knowledge of the law and the ability to see each litigant as an individual entitled to equal treatment and opportunity under the law. Experience and success at the job of judging would be a huge factor in determining whether a person has the qualifications to be a judge.
4. As a potential judge, what do you consider to be your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
My greatest strength is my experience as a judge. I've made it a mission to sit in every single jurisdiction of District Court and because I have sat for a number of years, I have been able to participate in every courtroom in the Hall of Justice over my career. One weakness, according to some, is that I will listen to litigants and at times allow those involved in the case to speak when it might not be the usual course of a particular court appearance and takes more time than usual to hear a case.
5. What or who are the major influences in your life and why?
My parents who worked hard to improve our community for all of their working lives and well into retirement. My father was well known for representing indigent litigants pro bono particularly in issues of equal housing and human rights. My mother, a social worker, worked full time while raising five children in an era not always kind to women's issues. Both of my parents are honored in the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame.
6. Have you witnessed any particular injustices inside or outside the courtroom and how did you respond to those circumstances? How will you respond to similar circumstances as a judge?
Injustices occur in and out of the courtroom and can be resolved in many instances by speaking up at the time. I learn of injustices occurring outside the courtroom by speaking with lawyers and with my colleagues on the bench. As judges, we work together to improve the atmosphere in the courthouse.
7. Who are your judicial role models and why?
As a practitioner I tried 50 jury trials in many different courts. I particularly admired Judge Ben Shobe and Judge Ed Johnstone who I practiced before several times. Both displayed vast legal knowledge and conducted trials with humor and grace.
8. Describe a circumstance where you took a difficult or controversial position and how you handled it.
I have been known to speak my mind in matters regarding the community and the judiciary.
9. How would you describe your general judicial philosophy?
I do the best I know how, every day, and my goal is to help people make positive changes in their lives. It is a blessing to work at a job that you enjoy and I frequently hear positive feedback from litigants who have appeared before me.
10. What are some of the most significant challenges facing Kentucky's judicial system and how do you propose to address them?
Significant challenges are the opiod crisis, neighborhood violence, jail overcrowding, equal justice for all people who come before the Court. The bench is making strides in offering alternatives to jail for drug addicts. Violence in neighborhoods I believe is driven by the drug trade and can only be solved by improved educational and job opportunities for young people so they can see a successful life in front of them, jail overcrowding may be addressed by alternative incarceration methods and rehabilitation programs. And currently, there is a trend to make changes in the way that bail is set so that indigent individuals will not sit in jail simply because they cannot afford to make bond.