Judith L. French
Justice since January 1, 2013
Judi French became a justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio on January 1, 2013. During her first year on the bench, she participated in hundreds of decisions by the court. But she also found time to travel the State of Ohio, visiting all 88 counties. With a history of public service, Justice French is committed to serving as a resource for the people of Ohio.
A History of Public Service
For the past two decades, Justice French has dedicated her career to public service. In that time, she has served the State of Ohio as a lawyer for a state agency, an assistant attorney general, counsel to the Governor, and, finally, as a judge.
In 1993, she joined the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency as deputy director for legal affairs. From 1997 to 2002, she worked for Attorney General Betty Montgomery as an assistant attorney general, and later as chief counsel.
During her time in the Attorney General’s Office, Justice French argued two cases before the United States Supreme Court. One of those cases was the Cleveland School Vouchers case, in which she served as lead counsel. Her successful presentation of the state’s position helped ensure equitable educational opportunities for every Ohio student.
From 2002 to 2004, Justice French served as chief legal counsel to Governor Bob Taft. In that role, she served as the chair of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Task Force, which made recommendations to the legislature for making Ohio’s sex-offender laws more effective.
In 2004, Justice French was elected as a judge on the Tenth District Court of Appeals, which hears appeals from Franklin County courts and state administrative agencies. While a judge on the court of appeals for eight years, she authored more than 800 legal opinions.
In December 2012, Governor John Kasich appointed Justice French to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court of Ohio. She became the 155th justice of the Ohio Supreme Court on January 1, 2013.
A Wide Breadth of Legal Experience
Although her two decades of public service are critical to her understanding of state laws and the Ohio judicial system, Justice French also has the benefit of experience in the corporate and private-practice arenas. She began her career as an attorney with the Columbus law firm of Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur, specializing in environmental law. Justice French also served as in-house counsel for a large manufacturing company.
In 2004, Justice French was recognized as a “Super Lawyer.”
A Commitment to Education
The daughter of a schoolteacher, Justice French appreciates her Ohio roots and education, and she is committed to being a part of civic education in Ohio.
Justice French grew up in Sebring, Ohio, a small town in Mahoning County. She graduated from Sebring McKinley High School in 1980, when she started her undergraduate studies at The Ohio State University.
She received three degrees from OSU: a B.A. in political science, an M.A. in history (with a concentration in military history and strategic studies), and a J.D., with honors. She currently serves her alma mater as a member of the Moritz College of Law National Council.
Having learned from so many talented teachers and professors, Justice French is dedicated to serving as a resource to them and their students. As an attorney, she served as a tutor and mentor in the Columbus Public Schools. As a justice, she speaks frequently to students from around Ohio, particularly those studying the Ohio judicial system.
Justice Judi French currently resides in Grandview Heights, near Columbus, with her husband and two children.
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