Kelly L. McLaughlin

Office: For Judge of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, General Division
Term Beginning 1/3/2021

Age: 58

Residence: Akron



Social Media: 

Occupation: Judge

Education: Juris Doctorate, Ohio State University, 1987; Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with Honors, Ohio State University, 1984

Work Experience: Judge, Summit County Court of Common Pleas, December 2018 to present; Chief Magistrate and Magistrate, Summit County Domestic Relations Court, 2010 to 2018; Attorney in private practice, with Davidson, Bonetti, Dunseath and McLaughlin, 1996 to 2010 and with Tramonte, Kot, Davis and Lowry, 1987 to 1996

Family: Unmarried, no children

Affiliations: Community Action of Akron Summit County; Child Guidance and Family Solutions, Child and Family Leadership Exchange, Buckeye Girls State, American Legion Auxiliary, St. John’s Episcopal Church

Endorsements: Endorsed by Akron Beacon Journal when elected in 2018. It is unknown if endorsements will be done this year, as I am running unopposed.

Bar Association Ratings: I will not be rated this year by the Akron Bar Association, as I am unopposed.

(1) List your judicial experience (courts and years)
• Presiding Judge, Summit County Court of Common Pleas, January 2020 to present
• Judge, Summit Count Court of Common Pleas, December 17, 2020 to present
• Chief Magistrate, Summit County Domestic Relations Court, 2016 to 2018
• Magistrate, Summit County Domestic Relations Court, 2010 to 2016

(2) What about your non-judicial legal experience qualifies you to be a judge?
As an attorney in private practice, I gained broad experience handling almost every type of case within the jurisdiction of a common pleas judge. From criminal defense work to civil litigation, my experiences representing clients in the common pleas court system gave me hands-on experience from the other side of the bench. My experience dealing with different judges in multiple different courts gave me a great deal of insight into the temperament, attitudes, policies, and procedures that lead to the effective and efficient administration of justice, and those that do not.

As an attorney, I represented people from all walks of life. I represented the young, the elderly, the poor, and the wealthy. I represented small businesses and wage earners. I represented people who had committed crimes. I represented people whose only way of getting help was through the justice system, and who were depending on me. I developed compassion and empathy for all of the people who make up our community, and a sense of responsibility toward those people.

While an attorney, I was also privileged to act as a court-appointed guardian ad litem advocating for hundreds of children in our court system. As a guardian, I investigated and made recommendations to the court regarding the best interests of those children. I analyzed information, applied the law to those facts, made decisions regarding the most just outcome for the children who were my wards, and wrote those decisions in a report.

As a result, I learned to think and write like a judge. All of these experiences have served me well in my time as a judicial officer, as both a magistrate and a judge.

(3) Why are you running for this particular court seat?
One of my favorite quotes is from Teddy Roosevelt, who said “Far and away, the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” For me, there is no more worthwhile or important work than that of a judge. I am honored and humbled to do this work.

The rule of law is the hallmark of a civilized society. A just court system protects its citizens from the abuses of both the government and fellow citizens. I am committed to making the world a safer and more just place to live. That work never stops, and we can never stop striving for improvement.

This year has been a difficult one for all of us. As presiding judge of my court, I have had to figure out how to keep a grand jury going in the middle of a pandemic. We are still struggling with balancing the need to keep the public safe versus the right that all people in our system have to have their cases tried by a jury. But balancing competing interests is what justice is all about.

Our country was founded in rebellion and a two hundred and fifty year quest to do and be better. For ourselves, for our communities, and for our children. We are experiencing growing pains right now. I believe that the court system has a huge role to play in ensuring that all of our citizens feel that they will be treated fairly, and that no one has their thumb on the scales of justice. No one entering a courthouse should be afraid that because of their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, or sex they will not receive justice. I believe that smart judges can help prevent crime, through careful and thoughtful sentencing processes. I believe that everyone deserves their day in court, and it is a privilege to provide that for them. I believe that a judge is a public servant. I believe I am a good judge who will become a better judge. Because this work is too important not to.