November 18, 2013
Justices O’Donnell and Kennedy Speak at State Meeting for Trial Attorneys

Ohio Supreme Court Justices Terrence O’Donnell and Sharon Kennedy led separate presentations at the Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys 2013 Annual Meeting on November 14-15.

Justice O’Donnell spoke on the topic titled: “Professionalism – A Personal Choice.” His presentation traced the development of the Professionalism Commission created by the late Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer. Justice O’Donnell said the public has gained great respect for the profession because attorneys and judges adhere to the rule of law.  He also noted in his presentation that while most attorneys are ethical, professionalism is a higher standard. 

He challenged those in attendance to view themselves as role models for new lawyers and invited them to join him in mentoring new lawyers by registering with the Ohio Supreme Court’s Lawyer to Lawyer mentoring program.

Justice O’Donnell has led statewide efforts to increase professionalism among lawyers and judges across the Buckeye state since joining the Ohio Supreme Court 2003.

Justice Kennedy discussed substance abuse issues that attorneys face in her presentation titled: “Fulfill Your Ethical Obligation by Throwing a Lifeline.” She discussed signs and symptoms for when attorneys turn to drugs or alcohol or have mental health disorders. She then gave advice on where attorneys can find help from within the legal profession.

“From the hundreds of Ohio attorney discipline cases that go through the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, more often than not the cases stem from some type of substance abuse,” Justice Kennedy said. “We must help these attorneys early on when we find these signs so they don’t end up suspended, or worse, permanently disbarred.” 

Other topics discussed during the annual meeting included recent Supreme Court decisions that affect defense attorneys, operating commercial dockets, and hearing from a trial attorney from Arizona who also happens to be a referee in the National Football League about how he succeeds at both jobs, among others. Retired Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton also received the Public Service Award during an awards luncheon on November 14.

Justice O’Donnell has been a member of the state judiciary for more than 25 years and has served on both the trial court and appellate court before being elected to the Ohio Supreme Court. He began his service on the Ohio Supreme Court in 2003 and was elected in 2004, 2006, and 2012.

Since joining the Supreme Court, Justice O’Donnell’s leadership culminated in the implementation of a Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program that is recognized nationally as one of the finest in the United States. He regularly speaks on topics of ethics, professionalism, and appellate advocacy, and also supports the expansion and strengthening of lawyer mentoring in Ohio. Additionally, he has participated in a national forum on professionalism and mentoring at the University of South Carolina.

Justice Kennedy is serving her first term on the Supreme Court of Ohio. Prior to joining the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy served on the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division from 1999 to 2012. Justice Kennedy served as the administrative judge there from 2005 until December 2012. Justice Kennedy began her career in the justice system as a police officer in Hamilton, Ohio. She received her law degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

For a high-resolution, publication-quality photo of Justice O'Donnell, visit: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/PIO/news/images/justices/odonnell_highres.zip.

Contact: Chris Davey or Jenna Gant at 614.387.9250.