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As of the 2020 election:

  • Out of the 32 Court of Common Pleas judges in Cuyahoga County, 16 (50%) are women.
  • Out of the 67 Ohio District Court of Appeals judges, 30 (45%) are women.
  • Out of the 7 Ohio Supreme Court justices, 4 are women.
  • Out of the 162 Ohio Supreme Court justices elected since statehood, 13 (8%) have been women.

In 2002, Ohio became the third state in the nation to have a female majority (4 of 7) on its state high court. In fact, since 1998, at least three of the seven state supreme court justices have been women, and women have had the majority in nine of the last ten annual terms.

Florence Allen: Trail-Blazer in Ohio and the Nation

Florence Allen swearing in

Florence Allen was the first woman ever elected to a judicial office in the nation, when she successfully ran for the Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas in 1920. Two years later, in 1922, she ran for the Ohio Supreme Court and won, making her the first woman in the nation to serve on a state high court. In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her to a U.S. Court of Appeals, making her the first woman to serve on the federal bench.
Photo: Cleveland Public Library

Maureen O'Connor

Maureen O'Connor: Ohio's First Female Chief Justice

Maureen O'Connor is Ohio's first female chief justice. Her judicial career began in 1992, when she was elected to the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. She served as Ohio's lieutenant governor from 1998 until 2002, and then ran for a seat on the state supreme court as an associate justice. In 2010, she ran for chief justice and won. During O'Connor's tenure as chief justice, she has tackled a wide variety of issues, including reforming judicial elections, leading a multi-state response to the opioid crisis, and creating a non-partisan website (JudicialVotesCount.org) that provides information on judicial candidates. Because of the age limits, O'Connor will not be able to run again in 2022, retiring after a career on the court that spans two decades.
Photo: Court News Ohio

Women Who Have Served on the Ohio Supreme Court

Florence Allen

Florence Allen

First elected in 1922
Left in 1934 to serve on U.S. Court of Appeals
First woman on the court
Photo: Cleveland Public Library

Blanche Krupnaski

Blanche Krupanski

Appointed in 1981 by Governor Rhodes
Lost 1982 election
Served on all 4 levels of Ohio judicial system
Photo: Columbus Citizen Journal/www.photohio.org

Alice Robie Resnick

Alice Robie Resnick

First elected in 1988
Did not seek reelection in 2006
Founder of Task Force on Gender Fairness
Photo: Ohio Supreme Court

Deborah Cook

Deborah Cook

First elected in 1994
Left in 2003 to serve on U.S. Court of Appeals
As attorney, first female partner at her firm
Photo: Ohio Supreme Court

Evelyn Stratton

Evelyn Stratton

Appointed in 1996
Retired in 2012 before term expired
Founder of Advisory Committee on Mental Illness & the Courts
Photo: Ohio Supreme Court

Maureen O'Connor

Maureen O'Connor

First elected in 2002 (still serving)
Became first female chief justice in 2011
Served as Ohio Lieutenant Governor
Photo: Ohio Supreme Court

Judith Lanzinger

Judith Lanzinger

First elected in 2004
Retired in 2016 (aged out)
Served on all 4 levels of Ohio judicial system
Photo: Ohio Supreme Court

Yvette McGee Brown

Yvette McGee Brown

Appointed in 2011
Lost 2012 election to Sharon Kennedy
First Black woman on high court
Photo: Ohio Supreme Court

Sharon Kennedy

Sharon Kennedy

First elected in 2012 (still serving)
Won all 88 counties in her reelection campaign
Began career as police officer
Photo: Ohio Supreme Court

Judith French

Judith French

Appointed in 2012
Lost 2020 election to Jennifer Brunner
As Assistant Attorney General, argued 2 cases at U.S. Supreme Court
Photo: Ohio Supreme Court

portrait of Mary DeGenaro

Mary DeGenaro

Appointed in January 2018
Lost 2018 election to Melody Stewart
Served 17 years as Ohio Court of Appeals Judge
Photo: Ohio Supreme Court

portrait of Melody Stewart

Melody Stewart

First elected in 2018 (still serving)
First Black woman elected to the high court
Has a PhD in addition to a JD
Photo: Cleveland.com

portrait of Jennifer Brunner

Jennifer Brunner

First elected in 2020 (still serving)
Served as Ohio’s Secretary of State from 2007 to 2011
Photo: Ohio Supreme Court

History by the Numbers

Women Running for Ohio Supreme Court, 1922 - 2020 (download Excel file)
This file includes data on female candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court from 1922 (the first year women were elected to the high court) to 2020. Justices run for election every six years. Election of the seven members is staggered, so all of the justices are not up for reelection at the same time.

Things to know about Ohio's Judiciary

All judges serve for 6-year terms, with mandatory retirement at age 70. Judges are allowed to finish the term during which they turn 70.

Ohio elects its judges using a method not used in any other state. Judicial candidates first run in a partisan primary, usually in the spring. The winners of these primaries then run in a non-partisan general election in the fall, with no party label after their name. 

If Ohio Supreme Court justices leave before their terms expire, the governor appoints replacements to fill the unexpired term. 

More information on the structure of Ohio’s courts