Sharon L. Kennedy
December 7, 2012 - present
Last day of current term: December 31, 2026
Dedicated Public Servant
In November 2020, Justice Sharon L. Kennedy was re-elected for a second time to a full term on the Supreme Court.Â Justice Kennedy first joined the court in 2012, having been elected to fill an unexpired term.Â She was elected to her first full term in November 2014.
Prior to her term on the Ohio Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy served at the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, beginning in 1999.Â From 2005 until December 2012, she served as the administrative judge of the division.Â
After obtaining her law degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1991, Justice Kennedy ran a small business of her own as a solo practitioner.Â While in private practice she served the legal needs of families, juveniles, and the less fortunate.Â She also worked on behalf of Ohio’s taxpayers to collect monies due the State of Ohio as special counsel to Attorney General Betty D. Montgomery and served as a part-time magistrate in the Butler County Area Courts.Â As a magistrate, she heard a wide array of civil litigation and assisted law enforcement officers and private citizens seeking criminal-arrest warrants.
Justice Kennedy began her career in the justice system as a police officer at the Hamilton Police Department.Â She was assigned to a single-officer road patrol unit working to protect and serve the citizens of the City of Hamilton.Â From the routine to the heart-pounding, to the heart-breaking she has seen it all.Â During her time as an officer she also worked undercover operations, implemented crime prevention programs, and later, as a civil assistant, assisted in drafting police policy and procedure for the Accreditation Program.
Beyond the Bench of the Supreme Court of Ohio
Justice Kennedy has dedicated herself to the initiative “Lean Forward: Advancing the Treatment of Veterans Across Ohio” and its annual summit.Â Through that work she has educated sheriffs, judges, magistrates, and probation and parole officers about the treatment resources available to justice-involved veterans.Â She also maintains an active speaking schedule, talking to students and civic organizations about our tripartite system of government and the Ohio judicial system and how it affects our daily lives.Â She gives audiences a behind-the-scenes look at the Ohio Supreme Court and discusses the common misperceptions of the Right of Free Speech.Â Justice Kennedy encourages young people to chase their American Dream by sharing her journey from police office to justice of the supreme court.
Proven Problem Solver
While in private practice Justice Kennedy partnered with the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, to create and implement life-skills classes for juveniles to break the cycle of recidivism.Â
During her time as administrative judge, she worked to implement a program to break down barriers to employment with the help of Butler County Jobs and Family Services.Â She improved the case management system of the court to ensure the timely resolution of cases for families and children and worked with state legislators to champion a "common sense" family law initiative to resolve an access-to-justice problem for families.
When Butler County faced tough economic times, Justice Kennedy organized concerned elected officials in a county-wide Budget Work Group and created the Advisory Committee to the Budget Work Group to bring private sector know-how to government spending. Serving as the facilitator, she led discussions between county officials and private sector leaders to analyze county finances, study and implement cost saving measures, and present business-driven fiscal policy to the county commissioners.Lifetime of Achievement
Throughout her career, Justice Kennedy has served on numerous boards, developed and facilitated programs to address the needs of young people, and worked with judges across the state. As a dedicated jurist, she has received multiple awards of recognition, including: the 2021 Freedom Award from the American Nationalities Movement; the Capital University Law School 2019 Esther Brocker Award; the AMVETS Department of Ohio 2018 Past Department Commanders’ Civil Servant of the Year Award; the 2018 National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution Silver Good Citizenship Medal; 2016 Leadership Ohio Community Leadership Award; the 2014 University of Cincinnati College of Law Nicholas Longworth, III Alumni Achievement Award; 2014 Northwest High School Distinguished Alumnus Award; “Named One of 13 Professional Women to Watch” by The Cincinnati Enquirer, March 17, 2013; 2009 Excellence in Public Service; 2006 Judge of the Year; 2002 Above the Fold Award; and the 2001 Furtherance of Justice Award. Justice Kennedy was also featured in Trends in the Judiciary: Interviews with Judges Across the Globe, Volume II, published by CRC Press in February 2015.
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