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David Dudley Dowd Jr.

Gov. James A. Rhodes appointed David Dowd to the Supreme Court of Ohio in a political gambit that proved unsuccessful when Dowd failed to win the seat in the following election.

David Dudley Dowd Jr. was born in Cleveland in 1929, to David and Martha Dowd. His father was an attorney in general practice in Stark County. Dowd graduated in 1951, with a bachelor of arts from the College of Wooster and, in 1954, with a juris doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School. He went into practice with his father in Massillon, but left to join the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Office. He left active service in 1957, but remained in the Army Reserve until 1970, when he retired as a major. Dowd resumed practice with Dowd & Dowd as a partner until 1975.

Dowd entered public office in 1960, after a successful election to an at-large seat on Massillon City Council. From 1961 to 1967, he served as assistant prosecuting attorney in Stark County and, from 1967 to 1975, as prosecuting attorney in Stark County. Dowd had an unsuccessful campaign in 1974 for attorney general and was defeated by George Smith in the Republican primary. From 1975 to 1980, Dowd served as a judge on the 5th District Court of Appeals of Ohio.

Dowd was appointed by Gov. Rhodes to fill the seat on the Supreme Court of Ohio vacated by Thomas M. Herbert, who resigned in July 1980. The appointment was made at that time to allow Dowd to run in the fall election as an incumbent. Dowd lost a close race to Clifford F. Brown, a Democrat, losing by only 35,594 votes out of more than 3 million cast.

Dowd returned to private practice in 1981, as a partner with Black, McCoskey, Souers & Arbaugh of Canton. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan nominated him to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Akron to fill a seat vacated by Leroy John Contie Jr.  He served on the federal bench for 32 years, until 1996, when he became a senior judge. In December 2004, Judge Dowd upheld punch-card voting in the nation’s first trial challenging that method of voting. His decision stated, “All voters in a county, regardless of race, use the same voting system to cast a ballot, and no one is denied the opportunity to cast a valid vote because of the race.” Dowd continued to hear federal cases part-time until July 2014.

Dowd died in Florida at age 87 on Aug. 4, 2016. A memorial service was on Aug. 20, 2016, at the Central Presbyterian Church in Massillon.

He and his wife Joyce raised four children: Cindy, David, Doug and Mark.

William Howard Taft

b. 1929

d. 2016

135th Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio

Jul 31, 1980
to Jan 1, 1981

See All Justices

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