Kani Hightower

Office: For Judge of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division
Term Beginning 1/4/2021

Age: 46

Residence: Copley



Social Media:

Occupation: Akron Municipal Court Magistrate

Education: J.D. from University of Akron School of Law, B.A. from Kent State University

Work Experience: Akron Municipal Court Magistrate. Experienced trial attorney in private practice in the areas of domestic, criminal, civil, juvenile, probate and appellate law since 2008. Law Clerk in private practice from 2004 to 2008. Clerk of Council for City of Aurora from 1998 to 2004. Roetzel & Andress, A Legal Professional Association from 1995-1998.

Family: Divorced with 3 children

Affiliations: Akron Bar Association; Akron Bar Association Board of Trustees (2016-2019), Akron Bar Association Board Investigative Subcommittee (2012-2019), Akron Bar Association Commission on Judicial Candidates (2014-2019), Summit County Juvenile Court Committee, Akron-Canton Barristers, Phillips Chapel C.M.E. Church, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., Federated Democratic Women of Summit County, Cuyahoga Falls Democratic Club, Democratic Club of Hudson

Senator Sherrod Brown, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, State Senator Dr. Vernon Sykes, County Executive Ilene Shapiro, Ret. Judge Carla Moore, County Councilwoman Veronica Sims, State Rep. Emilia Sykes, UA Plumbers and Pipefitters, Local 219, CWA Local 4302, Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge, Congressman Tim Ryan, Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh, Mayor Don Walters, Deputy Mayor Marco Sommerville, Mayor John Pribonic, State Rep. Tavia Galonski, State Rep. Casey Weinstein, Summit County Engineer Alan Brubaker, Summit County Councilman John Schmidt, Akron City Councilwoman Linda Omobien, Akron City Councilman Shammas Malick, Summit County Councilman John Donofrio, Akron City Councilman Bradley McKitrick, Macedonia Mayor Nick Molnar, Akron City Council President Margo Sommerville, Black Elected Officials of Akron/Summit County, Mayor Dan Horrigan

Bar Association Ratings: 

(1) List your judicial experience (courts and years)
Magistrate, Akron Municipal Court, 2020

(2) What about your non-judicial legal experience qualifies you to be a judge?
I am an experienced trial attorney with a reputation for results. I have had hundreds of trials and hearings, including bench trials and jury trials in domestic, civil, criminal, and probate law, and represented hundreds of clients. I am also an experienced appellate law attorney, participating in many successful appeals and oral arguments in at the Court of Appeals. I have also submitted jurisdictional briefs to the Ohio Supreme Court. I have practiced in many courts all over the State of Ohio.

I have served on various non-partisan advisory and steering boards and commissions, in furtherance of resolving community issues and creating court programs. I have served on the Summit County Probate Court Adoption Committee and the Summit County Juvenile Court Family Recovery Through Reunification Court steering, advisory, and executive committees, resulting in a specialized docket. I have also volunteered my time with the Summit County Common Pleas Turning Point Program (also known as drug court).

I have diligently fought for the rights of indigent parents and defendants to fair advocacy and an efficient court system. I have been appointed on a non-partisan basis by judges to represent indigent clients, as well as families, in Akron Municipal Court, Barberton Municipal Court, Stow Municipal Court, Summit County Juvenile Court, Summit County Probate Court, Summit County Common Pleas Court – General Division, and the Ninth District Court of Appeals. Finally, I have participated in many of the specialized dockets in Summit County and the municipal courts, including Valor Court, OVI Court, HOPE Court, Turning Point, Domestic Violence Court, and Family Reunification Through Recovery Court.

I am fair and impartial, yet firm and empathetic. I believe in strength on the bench, while understanding the needs of the litigants and the public. I believe my experience with the public, the courts, other lawyers, and the judiciary, as well as my knowledge of the law, qualifies me to be a judge.

(3) Why are you running for this particular court seat?
Summit County Domestic Relations Court has the ability to affect the majority of the people in Summit County, including children, parents, spouses, grandparents and extended families. This court, in other words has the most captive audience when it comes to making a difference in Summit County. As result, this Court needs someone like me, who is interested in the issues affecting our community and resolving those issues, or assisting the public so that the Court is not also a part of their problem.

Litigants should come to an efficient court, where all parties are treated with dignity and respect. In addition, litigants should be assured that their court experience will be fair and impartial and geared towards legal resolutions, yet also include problem solving measures and collaborative approaches. These are things that I, as a judge, would ensure would occur in Summit County Domestic Relations Court.

Further, as the candidate with the most years of experience with Domestic Relations, I believe that I have the experience with this particular court which would allow me the perspective necessary to make a difference and effectuate change for the better. Therefore, I chose to run for Summit County Domestic Relations Court Judge.