Judge Thea A. Sherry was appointed to the circuit court bench on February 4, 2011. Before that, she served as an associate circuit judge beginning in 1998. Since her last retention election, she presided over an associate civil and equity docket from January 2006 to February 2009, and then was a Family Court juvenile judge from February 2009 to December 2011. She presently presides over civil and criminal jury trials.
She received a B.A. degree from the University of California-Riverside and her law degree from Washington University in St. Louis. She is a member of The Missouri Bar, Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, Women Lawyers Association of Greater St. Louis, St. Louis County Bar Association, and National Association of Women Judges.
Judge Sherry has been an adjunct professor at Washington University School of Law for six years and currently teaches evidence. She has been a member of the Supreme Court of Missouri’s Family Court Committee since 1999, and presently chairs the subcommittee on Child Support Guidelines Review. She was also appointed a member of the Supreme Court’s ASTAR Trial Judge Committee in 2009 and was named a fellow in the ASTAR program in 2009.
She has also been an advocate for children and family justice. For four years she served as co-chair of the Missouri Task Force on Children’s Justice through 2008. She has been an executive council member of the St. Louis County Domestic and Family Violence Council since 2000, and chaired the council from 2004-2007.
Judge Sherry resides in St. Louis County and is a member of the Church of St. Michael and St. George in Clayton.
Attorneys were asked to rate each judge in 18 categories on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score. Some 222 attorneys responded as to Judge Sherry, with her range of scores from 4.15 to 4.45. Her highest overall scores came in regard to: treating people equally regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, economic status, or any other factor; maintaining and requiring proper order and decorum in the courtroom; and demonstrating appropriate demeanor on the bench. Her lowest scores on the attorney surveys were in regard to: rulings on dispositive motions state reasons and consistently apply substantive law; effectively uses pre-trial procedure to narrow and define the issues; and efficiently manages her docket.
A peer survey of nine fellow St. Louis County judges rated Judge Sherry on the same 18 criteria as the lawyer survey. Judge Sherry has an average score of 4.39, with a range from 4.00 (clearly explains all oral decisions) to 4.56 (four-way tie, including: is competent in the law; and is prepared for hearings and trials).
No jury responses were received, as Judge Sherry did not preside over jury trials while she was a Family Court juvenile judge from February 2009 to December 2011.
The committee also reviewed two lengthy judgments submitted by Judge Sherry – one from 2010 pertaining to a petition to terminate parental rights and the other from 2011 involving a judicial review of a finding by the Child Abuse and Neglect Board. The committee also reviewed a 2010 order approving a report and recommendation of a discovery master from a complex declaratory judgment action. The facts and law were explained well in each of these writings, and the rulings were consistent with the cited statutes and case law.