About Judge Mike Harper

How I Became a Judge - In 2013, Judge Woodward retired from his position of Superior Court Judge. The State law requires the Governor to fill that position with the most qualified candidate. I, and at least 10 other local and Redding attorneys, applied. Jim Underwood announced that he intended to apply, as well. The process involved a long application. After references were contacted and the application reviewed, the Governor’s office selected me for evaluation by the State’s Committee on Judicial Nominee Evaluation. JNE had me submit 75 names of attorneys and judges, who gave input on whether I was qualified. Then JNE in San Francisco interviewed me for two hours, addressing input from the judges and attorneys. Following the interview, the JNE Commission submitted my name to the Governor. The Governor's office contacted more people to make sure they knew everything there was to know about my career and about me personally. In Sacramento, the Governor's Secretary for Judicial Appointments interviewed me for another two hours. In June 2014, after a year-and-a-half-long process and after considering at least 10 other candidates, the Governor appointed me Superior Court Judge for Trinity County.

Experience/Qualifications - I received a degree in Political Science from UC Berkeley in 1990 and a law degree from UOP McGeorge School of Law in 1993. I passed the bar in 1993 and got a job as a Deputy DA in Placer County, then Sacramento County. But Joanne and I wanted to raise our children in a small community, so when I saw the opening in Trinity County, I applied, and became Deputy DA here in March 2001. In 2006 I was elected your District Attorney, re-elected in 2010.

As DA, I administered the department’s budget, made personnel decisions, and managed the office, while I prosecuted cases in the courtroom. I have presented over 75 jury trials in my career. As the DA, I was the Public Administrator, responsible for Probate cases for people who died without anyone to help administer their estate. I was the Juvenile Justice Commissioner, helping make sure we had a safe juvenile facility. I helped organize and present Mock Trials and Moot Court “We the People” competition for Trinity County students.

Now as your Judge for the last 2 years, I have dealt with thousands of cases, from civil to small claims, dependency and criminal, but over 90% of the time is spent on criminal cases. These are time sensitive cases and it takes an experienced Judge to move them through the system efficiently and effectively. As your Judge I also administer Peer Court which allows low-level juvenile offenders to admit their crime and have a jury of their peers decides the consequences. It is a great program that allows high school students to present the case and other high school students to decide the consequences. We have it in Weaverville and Hayfork, with Southern Trinity able to participate as well.

I help Shasta County with its calendar when I am available. I assist Humboldt County by phone when it needs a judge.

Personal - I was born in 1967, the youngest of five children. Dad was a probation officer. Mom was a Courtroom clerk. I visited them at work. I loved watching the Court proceedings, whether criminal or civil. I watched the attorneys argue their points, present their cases. I observed Judges listening patiently and ruling respectfully. I knew that law was the path I intended to follow.

Joanne and I met in college, where we both ran on the track and cross-country teams. We were married in 1994. In 1996, we hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada, including the Trinity Divide over Scott Mountain. Our son Ben was born in 1998, then Brian in 1999. Daughter Lauren was born here at Trinity Hospital in 2001.

I became an active member of the community immediately.

Mike Coaching more photos...

Mike at the 2015 Color Run more photos...

Family - My wife Joanne, is a local architect. She is committed to community activities such as coaching track at THS and cross country at THS. She started the annual Trinity County elementary school track meet 4 years ago. She is an avid runner.

Ben is a senior at THS. He is a great student, musician, and runner. He is waiting to hear about college.

Brian is a sophomore at THS. He is a great student and active in multiple sports. He is in 4H and raising a steer and swine for FFA. He is also a promising guitar player.

Lauren is a freshman at THS. She is a great student, athlete, and fiddle player. She is raising pigs for 4H and is a member of the FFA forestry team. She just bought her own horse for her “free” time. Trinity County is our home. photos...