June 13, 2014
Justice Kennedy Addresses Elder Abuse Prevention

Image of Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon L. Kennedy speaking at a podium

Justice Kennedy addressed an audience at a Stark County event to raise awareness of issues facing the elderly and disabled.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon L. Kennedy spoke at the fourth annual “Justice for All: Protecting the Elderly and Disabled”seminar in Stark County on Friday, June 13, 2014.

The seminar was co-hosted by Stark County Probate Judge Dixie Park and the Stark County Multidisciplinary Advocacy and Protective Resources Team. The program was designed to raise awareness of various issues facing elderly and disabled citizens, as well as to educate the professional community and provide resources to address those difficulties.

In her presentation, Justice Kennedy addressed the question of how to protect the rights of senior citizens while maintaining their safety and wellbeing. She spoke both from a professional standpoint as well as from personal experience, relating how her own grandmother was once accosted by a burglar in her home. Justice Kennedy described how she herself was confronted with some of the same concerns that face all family members of the elderly.

“At that time, I was a police officer, and I was put in a position where people wanted me to use my authority as an officer to tell my grandmother that she couldn’t live by herself anymore,” Justice Kennedy said, going on to explain why she was unable to do so. “It wasn’t my job to strip her of her choice, freedom, and dignity, but rather to help find strategies to keep her living independently and safe.”

She also recounted her experience as an attorney representing seniors in the same position.

“It’s about coming up with a way to put our senior citizens in a careful situation where they can remain living independently without coming to harm by self or by another’s abuse,” she explained.

She concluded by thanking those in attendance for their services that enable elderly people to continue living independently.

“Thank you for respecting their dignity and helping them achieve and maintain a good quality of life while protecting them,” she told them. “In years to come, I hope this day stands for Elder Respect Day.”

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, print-quality photo of Justice Kennedy, visit: http://www.sc.ohio.gov/PIO/news/images/justices/kennedy_highres.zip.