Saturday, Sep 22, 2018
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State GOP backs SW Ohio judge for Supreme Court


Sharon Kennedy


COLUMBUS--A Butler County domestic relations judge has won the Ohio Republican Party's endorsement in her bid to capture the last remaining seat on the state Supreme Court held by a Democrat.

Judge Sharon Kennedy, 49, of Liberty Township, filed candidate petitions Tuesday for the GOP nomination in the March 6 primary election for the right to do battle with Justice Yvette McGee Brown, a Democrat who joined the top court early this year after being appointed to a vacancy by then-Gov. Ted Strickland.

Judge Kennedy received a bachelor's degree in social work, but the job market had largely dried up when she graduated from the University of Cincinnati in the mid-1980s. Instead she spent four years on the Hamilton city police force before going to law school. She said her experience as a police officer on the street and in an administrative role helped to prepare her for the judiciary.

"It's invaluable to see the world from a police car,'' she said. "You're not working with concepts but applying the law whenever you make a decision to stop a car, make arrests, or search a car. It's not theory anymore when you're out on the street and alone.''

After law school and some time in private practice, she went on to defeat a Democratic incumbent for the Butler County bench in 1998.


Sharon Kennedy

Age: 49

Home: Liberty Township

Office: Judge, Butler County Common Pleas Court, domestic relations division (1999-present)

Public service: Police officer, city of Hamilton (1985-89)

Education: Law degree (1991), bachelor's in social work (1984), University of Cincinnati

The GOP state central committee recently endorsed Judge Kennedy along with two incumbents, Justices Robert Cupp of Lima and Terrence O'Donnell of Rocky River.

Filing candidate petitions by Wednesday's deadline for the Democratic nomination to challenge Justice Cupp were former appellate Judge William M. O'Neill and Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Fanon A. Rucker.

Austintown attorney Robert W. Price was the sole person to file petitions for the Democratic nomination to do battle with Justice O'Donnell.

Judge Kennedy said her role on a specialized domestic relations court would bring a new dimension to the high court.

"I believe that specialized docket knowledge is and has been missing," she said. "To my knowledge, none of the justices currently has domestic relations experience. I do not know how much Justice Brown has. I realize she was elected to a dual jurisdiction bench with a specialized juvenile docket.

"This is critical,'' Judge Kennedy said. "Their cases are not just a commercial docket or criminal cases, but a whole base of specialized dockets. I've been doing this for 13 years. The law has changed and is continuing to change in this area.''

Contact Jim Provance at: or 614-221-0496.

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