Franklin County Municipal Court Judge, ending 12/31/2019

Franklin County residents will choose among three candidates to become Municipal Court Judge, with a term ending 12/31/2019.Read more:Candidates in Franklin County Municipal Court races tout their strengthsDispatch endorsement
Choose two candidates from below to compare.
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    Morgan Marie Masters Magistrate & Prosecutor

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    Keith J. Nowak Attorney

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    Jodi Thomas Judge Franklin County Municipal Court

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Biographical Information

Why are you the best-qualified candidate for the judgeship you are seeking?

In general, what is your judicial philosophy?

What else would you like to say to voters?

Age 35
Education I obtained my B.A. in Criminology from The Ohio State University in '03, and my J.D. from Capital University in '06.
Experience Law Clerk, 2004-2006. Criminal Defense Attorney, 2006-2009. Prosecutor, 2009 - present. Magistrate (Mayor's Court), 2012 - present.
Family Married to husband Greg, with two young daughters.
Religion Christian
Campaign email
YouTube Video
I believe I am best qualified for this position because of my diverse legal background, my judicial temperament, and my demonstrated history of showing fairness, respect, and grace to others. I’ve spent my entire career in the courtroom, defending the constitutional rights of Franklin County residents, seeking justice for victims, and fairly deciding criminal and traffic matters that have come before me as a magistrate. My background as a defense attorney, as a prosecutor, and as a magistrate has given me the broad perspective I believe our judiciary should possess. Additionally, my legal qualifications are supplemented by my true desire to affect positive change in the lives of others, with empathy, respect, and care Lastly, my work ethic throughout my career has demonstrated that I will work hard for the residents of Franklin County to render fair decisions and sentences, and to give back to our communities.
My judicial philosophy is to be be fair, approachable, and open-minded. A judge is the ultimate neutral party in a courtroom, tasked with following the law, with being the gatekeeper of evidence, and with seeking justice in sentencing. Every case opened in Franklin County Municipal Court affects the lives of real people, and it’s incredibly important to me that each person who passes through my courtroom feels seen, heard, and considered. Whether it’s a speeding ticket, an assault case, or a civil dispute, I will pay each matter attention and give regard to the consequences of my decisions and sentences. I believe it is a judge’s charge to be disinterested yet thoughtful and concerned, so that her findings respect the integrity of our justice system, protect the rights of our citizens, and safeguard our communities.
In 2008, my brother took his life following a three-year battle with drug addiction; he was my best friend, my confidante, and my only sibling. His death was the single most devastating thing to ever happen to me, but it forced me to grow immensely, particularly as a lawyer who encounters troubled souls on a daily basis. Through this tragedy, I’ve become a stronger and more thoughtful person, as I know firsthand that the burdens one carries are not always visible. It also has made me who I am today: a mom, wife, friend, and colleague, who wants every person, no matter their race, creed, sex, or other demographic, to have the ability to live a drug-free life in a safe community. Becoming a judge is an awesome responsibility, and I hope to be able to use my background, legal skills, and drive to serve you. I humbly ask for your vote.
Age 35
Education J.D. The University of Akron School of Law B.S.B.A. cum laude The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business
Experience Solo Practitioner. Licensed for 8 years. Practice areas include business law, criminal defense, and personal injury.
I am an innovative and progressive candidate that brings an outside perspective that can only come from an attorney who is not entrenched in the Court’s status quo. As a business lawyer, I focus on efficiency, cost-savings, and amicable solutions to complex problems.

There are many inefficiencies and logistical problems at the Municipal Court which need addressed. These problems predominately inconvenience the participants, and serve as a quasi “punishment” separate from the actual proceeding. This is unfair, and erodes the public trust in our legal system.
Thank you for being a voter. Our representative democracy best serves the people when citizens vote. Informed voting is a must, and I deeply appreciate you taking the time to learn about me. You won’t see television ads, receive robo-calls, or find me on a political sample ballot. I do not believe elections should be bought or about money. This is especially true for judicial elections where donors can appear before their court.

I live in Clintonville with my better-half and our dog, and am incredibly honored to have the opportunity to serve the community I love. I thank the people who have shown incredible support and enthusiasm for an independent candidate. I promise to run a fair and efficient courtroom where everyone is treated with respect and given a chance to be heard. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to serving Franklin County.
I believe judicial philosophy is a term best reserved for academics trying to find an umbrella description for the entirety of a judge’s decisions. It is an inherently inaccurate label because a good judge is never just an activist, textualist, liberal, or conservative; rulings and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

I assure voters that I will carry out the duties of the position in an impartial, fair, and respectful manner. There is no room for personal biases or prejudices in the Judiciary, and will decide cases with deference to precedence and legislative will. I am caring and compassionate and promise to give every participant their chance to be heard in my courtroom.
Age 43
Education J.D. from Capital University; Bachelor of Science in Social Work from The Ohio State University; License in Social Work
Experience April 2016-Present Judge in the Franklin County Municipal Court; 2002-2016 Staff Attorney for the Franklin County Public Defender’s Office; 2013-2016 Lead Attorney for the Franklin County Specialized Dockets
Family Married for 16 years with 2 daughters ages 9 and 13.
Religion Jewish
YouTube Video
Twitter @JudgeJodiThomas
My legal career began 15 years ago as a staff attorney for the Franklin County Public Defender's Office. I was there until taking the bench in April of 2016. As a defense attorney, my role was to zealously advocate for my client. I have represented thousands of people using a practice style that not only protected their rights, but also tried to put them on a better path in life. My effort and commitment to understanding the nature of addiction and mental health, and how it impacts criminal behavior, helped me better advocate for my clients and led to recognition in the community, including awards from the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County, Military and Veterans Service Program, and the Model of Justice Award from the Justice League of Ohio for my work with victims of human trafficking. Since taking the bench, I have earned the respect of my peers and it is reflected in the Columbus Bar Association Judicial Performance Poll and the Candidate Preference Poll.
I believe the role of a judge is to apply the law as written, with interpretation only when necessary. In my experience, it is rare that a Municipal Court Judge is faced with significant issues of legal interpretation. Rather, Municipal Court Judges prove their worth through a willingness to fully understand and engage with the unique facts of each case. My time practicing in front of a multi-judge court has allowed me to experience many different judicial styles in action, and I have seen how these philosophies can impact not only citizens who come before the judge, but also society as a whole. I believe it is crucial to not have predetermined sentencing policies, but instead examine each case and apply a sentence that is appropriate both for the needs of that individual and the overall safety of the community. One of my goals will always be for litigants to leave the courtroom believing as though they were treated with dignity and respect, even if they do not agree with the outcome.
I have spent the last 15 years practicing in the Franklin County Municipal Court, which is the same court where I am currently serving as Judge. My background and experiences working with victims of human trafficking, those with drug addiction and/or mental health disorders, and veterans, prepared me for where I am today. I want to continue to use these skills and apply them to this position. Working in the specialized dockets, I frequently witnessed the powerful role that a judge can play in improving the lives of individuals, while simultaneously improving the safety of our community. I feel I am doing just that in the way I handle the cases that come before me. I understand that a "one size fits all" approach is not the best way to reduce recidivism. I work hard each day to examine each case and apply a sentence that is appropriate both for the needs of that individual and the overall safety of the community. I am honored to serve the citizens of Franklin County.
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