Supreme Court of Ohio Justice


Name: Judith French (Incumbent)

Background: Judith French has been an appellate judge for ten years, including two years as a Justice. She also has spent two decades of experience in public service, including as an assistant attorney general, and later as chief counsel to the Governor.

Why should I care?: As an attorney, she served as a tutor and mentor in the Columbus Public Schools and spoke frequently to students from around Ohio. She received a “highly recommended” rating from The Ohio State Bar Association. 

Message for KSU students: “I grew up in northeast Ohio, just a short distance from Kent, and my background is likely a lot like theirs: small high school, working parents, a part-time job at McDonald’s. I got where I am through education and hard work.  Those are the values I bring to the bench.”



Name: Sharon Kennedy (Incumbent)

Background: Before becoming an Ohio Supreme Court Justice, Kennedy served on the Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division in Butler County since 1999. From 2005 to 2012, Kennedy also served as the administrative judge of the Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division.

Why should I care?: Kennedy’[1] s  campaign manager told the Kent Stater caring Latson cares about civic education and helping the youth and preventing them from the justice system. She declined to participate in the Ohio Bar Association’s ratings.

Message for Kent State students: Kennedy did not respond in time for publication.


Name: Thomas Letson

Background: Thomas Letson is currently the State Representative of the 64th District and will complete his final term in the Statehouse December. He was a judge at the Warren Municipal Court and as an assistant city prosecutor in Newton Falls, Ohio. Letson is also an Ohio native and a Kent State alumnus of 1983.

Why should I care?: Letson has argued in the Ohio House using Supreme Court rulings that found the state’s relied too much on local property taxes to be unconstitutional because it placed students in poorer districts at a competitive disadvantage with their counterparts in wealthier districts, according to the Toledo Blade. He received a “not recommended” rating by the Ohio State Bar Association. 

Message for Kent State students: “The court is not what I would call balanced. Every single person on that court is on a partisan primary ballot. That background that you grew up with does not somehow disappear between May and November.” Letson told the Toldeo Blade.



Name: John O’Donnell

Background: John O’Donnell earned his education in Northeast Ohio. After obtaining his law degree, he worked as a civil trial attorney until being elected to the bench. O’Donnell was elected to the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in 2002, 2006 and 2012, according to his website. Between 2007-2010, O’Donnell became the appointed as judge to handle felony mental health docket consisting of cases involving criminal defendants diagnosed serious mental illnesses with psychotic components. Recently broke a “clean campaign” pledge with a recent negative advertisement.

Why should I care?: O’Donnell is the author of over 100 judicial opinions and has consistently received a “highly recommended” rating by the Ohio State Bar Association.

Message for Kent State students: O’Donnell did not respond in time for publication.