Office: Summit County Common Pleas Court-Domestic Relations Division
Political Party Affiliation: Republican
Residence: Akron, OH
Website: Www.judgekatarinacook.com; Judge Katarina Cook Facebook page; @JudgeCook4Kids
Education: Firestone High School, Akron, Ohio, High School Diploma, 1982; University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, B.A. History & Psychology, 1986; University of Akron School of Law, J.D., 1990.
Work Experience: Judge, Akron Municipal Court 2009-present; Magistrate, Akron Municipal Court, 2005-2009; Domestic Relations Mediation Practice, 2003-2005; Substitute mediator, Summit County Common Pleas Court, 2003-2005; Summit County Domestic Relations Court Guardian Ad Litem 1998-2005; Law Office of Katarina Vujic Cook, 1997-2005; Assistant Prosecutor, Stark County Prosecutor’s Office, 1993-1997; Law Clerk for Judge Harry Klide, Stark County Common Pleas Court, 1992-93.
Family: Married with four sons
Affiliations: Trustee, Ohio Women’s Bar Association; Board Member, Summit County Collaborative Against Human Trafficking; American Judges Association; Ohio State Bar Association; Ohio Municipal Court Judges Association; Akron Bar Association- Past Chair & Vice-Chair & current member Street Law Association, Past chair & current member, Municipal Courts Committee; Bencher, Scanlon/Bell Inns of Court; Coach, St. Hilary School Middle School Mock Trial Team; Past Room mom, St. Hilary School; Board Member, Cascade Park Locks Association; Board Member, Friends of Hower House; Junior League of Akron- Seedlings; Summit County Master Gardener; Member, Akron Garden Club.
Bar Association Ratings: N/A
(1) List your judicial experience (courts and years)
2009-present- Judge, Akron Municipal Court. 2012-present-Presiding Judge OVI Court, certified as a specialty court by the Ohio Supreme Court, a program targeted at stopping repeat drunk-driving offenders. 2005-2009-Magistrate, Akron Municipal Court.
(2) What about your non-judicial legal experience qualifies you to be a judge?
While many would not want to deal with the awful reality that children in our community are being victimized-either emotionally, physically, or sexually, I have felt that this was my calling to help these victims from the moment I decided to become a psychology major while pursuing my undergraduate degree. I readily accepted the challenge when asked to specialize in prosecuting child sex abuse cases. As a Stark County assistant prosecutor in the juvenile division, I received training to interview child victims. I was a member of the Child Sex Abuse Task Force. As I wanted to continue advocating for abused and neglected children after leaving the prosecutor’s office, I underwent an extensive 40 hour volunteer guardian ad litem (GAL) training class at the Summit County Juvenile Court. I served as both a volunteer and attorney guardian ad litem at Summit County Juvenile Court, being appointed to the first CASA Board (Court Appointed Special Advocates for children). In 1999, I was awarded a President’s Letter from the Ohio Senate of 123rd Congress in honor of my outstanding service with the CASA/GAL programs at Summit County Juvenile Court. I then was appointed by the Summit County Domestic Relations Court as a GAL, in modification of or change of custody proceedings, often being assigned to cases where there were allegations of child physical or sexual abuse. This required conducting in-home interviews of children and parents, contacting therapists and schools, and timely issuing written GAL reports upon which magistrates relied in making their decisions. I also appeared in Summit County Domestic Relations Court, representing the best interests of the children involved. In 2003, I became a Domestic Relations Mediator, after undergoing a specialized 40 hour training for Domestic Relations Mediation. I then joined a private practice in Stark County, receiving mediation appointments from Stark County Family Court. From 2003-2005, I facilitated settlements with the parties themselves, mediated custody and property issues. This hands-on experience provided insight as to the daily concerns of parents and children and the trauma of divorce that affects the intimate aspects of their lives. These past experiences have allowed me to fulfill my vocation to help children in crises. I look forward this new opportunity to help children if elected to the open seat at the Summit County Domestic Relations Court.
(3) Why are you running for this particular court seat?
With Summit County’s divorce rate at 53.9%*, Domestic Relations Court touches the lives of many more people than other courts on a personal level. In today’s world, everyone knows somebody that’s going through a divorce, and most children have to deal with the consequences of divorce proceedings-either because of their own families’ or their friends’. Our domestic relations court needs a judge with the philosophy that every case number represents a family in trauma. A judge must always keep in mind that delays in rendering decisions creates uncertainties and are both emotionally and financially detrimental to families. My background working with children, and my years as a judge, and the programs that I have successfully implemented, brings hands-on, real-world wisdom. As a child of divorced parents, my life has been personally impacted by the Summit County Domestic Relations Court since the age of seven. By one stroke of the pen at an ex-parte hearing and without providing notification to my brother, sister, or I or having anyone represent our interests, the Domestic Relations judge awarded custody to my abusive father. We didn’t know of the order until being served by the deputies that showed up at our door three days after our mother died. Fortunately, my uncle fought for our welfare and ultimately adopted us. I will never forget that feeling of despair and helplessness walking into my father’s house. And I know how these children of divorce suffer. As a judge, I realize every time I sign an order, that a chain of events commences, and unintended consequences happen. I personally scrutinize every decision I make, providing each interested party the opportunity to be heard in a timely manner. My ultimate goal is to make the court process less painful and protracted and more productive for the families that appear before the court. If elected, I intend to provide this court with the positive energy and impetus to respond to those having a case at the Summit County Domestic Relations Court. Our community deserves a court that cares, a judge that cares. I respectfully ask for your vote. *2011 Rates from the Ohio Department of Health Website-Marriage and Divorce Statistics