Jenifer A. French

Office: For Judge of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, General Division
Term Beginning 2/9/2021

Age: 46

Residence: Westerville



Social Media: 

Occupation: Judge-Common Pleas Court

Education: The Ohio State University-BA Criminal Justice, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, JD cum laude

Work Experience: Wayne Thomas and Associates, complex civil litigation attorneyLane Alton, civil litigator

Family: Married with 3 children

Affiliations: Member of Women Lawyers of Franklin County, 100 Women of Westerville, The Columbus Bar Association, St Paul Catholic Church

Endorsements: The Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge #9, Central Ohio Labor Council/AFL-CIO, Columbus Firefighters Union Local 67, Columbus Building Trades and The Teamsters Local 413 and 284.

Bar Association Ratings: 2020: “Highly Recommended” by the Columbus Bar Association Screening Committee; 2014: “Highly Recommended” by the Columbus Bar Association

(1) List your judicial experience (courts and years)
I have been a judge on the Franklin County Common Pleas Court for 5 years.

(2) What about your non-judicial legal experience qualifies you to be a judge?
I studied criminal law at The Ohio State University for 4 years prior to law school. Following my graduation from law school I practiced in the field of complex civil litigation for a small firm in San Diego. Given the size of the firm, I was almost immediately handling my own cases from start to finish. This helped me to learn the world of civil law very early on in my career. I was taking depositions, representing clients in mediations and trying cases in my first year of practice. Most of the lawyers from other firms that were involved in these cases were much more experienced than I was, so I had to learn quickly. I also was handling cases that involved areas of the law that I had not necessarily studied in law school.

Being a judge requires that you be familiar and competent to handle cases in many areas of the law that you may not have been exposed to during your time as a lawyer. This requires a great deal of hard work and you cannot be afraid to ask questions.

I had the same experience as a lawyer, so when I became a judge, I knew how to handle it.

As a judge in Franklin County, you have to be able to handle both civil and criminal cases. My experience and education positioned me to be knowledgeable in both areas. Finally, as a lawyer handling complex cases that generally involved dozens of lawyers, I had to navigate my way through a multitude of different personalities and skill levels. Judges have to do the same thing when it comes to the parties and the lawyers. I learned diplomacy as a lawyer and I use it every day as a judge.

(3) Why are you running for this particular court seat?
I am running to keep my seat on the Franklin County Common Pleas Court because this court provides me with the opportunity, almost every day, to have a positive impact on our community. On this court, we have the ability to change lives, to save lives and to make the world a better place. There is enormous responsibility with this position, because there is enormous power. It is vital to use that power to make positive change and to help people. I do this on a daily basis and it is incredibly rewarding.

I take the responsibility of this job very seriously because I know my decisions impact so many aspects of the lives of the people who appear in my courtroom. I strive to work with the lawyers and the litigants to think outside of the box to find solutions, when we can, to the issues in front of us. I will often bring in the parties and their lawyers to try to work through their disagreements in a civilized, peaceful manner.

In criminal cases, I work very hard to put myself in the shoes of both the defendant and the victim in aiding with plea negotiations and when sentencing. I have a very hands on approach because we are not dealing with “cases,” we are dealing with people. This court deals with felonies and civil cases where a great deal of money is in dispute, so the stakes are high.

I am running to keep my seat so that I can continue to ensure that the playing fields are level and that every person who walks into my courtroom knows that they will be heard and treated fairly.