Kirsten Pscholka-Gartner

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

Age: 38

Residence: Lexington



Social Media: Facebook: @pscholkagartnerforjudge

Occupation: Magistrate

Education: B.A. in Political Science and International Studies with a German minor from Capital University, 2001; J.D. from Capital University Law School, 2004

Work Experience: Assistant Prosecutor in Richland County from 2004-2011, Magistrate in Richland County Domestic Relations Court from 2011-present

Family: Married

Affiliations: Member of Mansfield Liederkranz and All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church


Bar Association Ratings: 

(1) List your judicial experience (courts and years)
I have nine years of judicial experience as a Magistrate in Richland County Domestic Relations Court. I currently serve as the Chief Magistrate.

(2) What about your non-judicial legal experience qualifies you to be a judge?
My wide variety of legal experience, and my extensive legal research and writing skills qualify me to serve as a judge. From 2004-2011, I was an Assistant Prosecutor in the Richland County Prosecutor’s Office. I primarily served as the office’s appellate attorney. In that capacity, I handled hundreds of appeals from juvenile delinquency findings and adult felony convictions in the Fifth District Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Ohio.

In 2006, I successfully appealed and argued a case before the Supreme Court of Ohio, winning a reversal of the lower court’s ruling. I also handled post-conviction relief proceedings for two death penalty cases. In one of those cases, the Defendant wished to waive his right to further appeals and have his death sentence carried out. I represented the State in a hearing before the trial court which determined that he was competent to do so. I also represented the State in a clemency hearing before the Ohio Parole Board for that same case. In addition to my duties as the appellate attorney. I represented the State in a number of juvenile delinquency cases.

I also worked with local law enforcement agencies to screen adult felony cases during the intake process, presented cases to the grand jury, and represented the State in preliminary hearings.

Finally, I assisted the civil division in preparing and filing pleadings in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. After I left the Prosecutor’s Office to become a Magistrate in Domestic Relations Court, my legal research and writing experience allowed my to easily transition to a new area of law.

(3) Why are you running for this particular court seat?
I have devoted my career to serving the citizens of Richland County and ensuring that everyone has access to fair and equal justice. I am running for Probate Court Judge to continue that work.

As Chief Magistrate, I have been involved in planning for the implementation of electronic filing in the Domestic Relations Court, which will take place in 2020. If I am elected as Probate Court Judge, I plan to implement electronic filing in the Probate Court to modernize and streamline court operations, and improve access to the court by allowing individuals to file necessary paperwork from their home computer. Access to the courts is vital for a fair judicial system, and I will make that a priority as Probate Court Judge.

I also believe that the judicial system should be representative of the population it serves. According to the last census, women make up 49.2% of Richland County’s population; however, only one out of the five Richland County Common Pleas judgeships is held by a woman. I believe that more female representation in the judiciary is vitally important, particularly in family courts like Domestic Relations and Probate Court. Women often serve as caregivers, whether it is caring for children, or aging parents. That life experience provides a perspective which is important in ruling on cases involving sensitive family issues.

In my personal life, I watched with my mother and her siblings care for my grandmother at home when she was dying of brain cancer. As an only child, I have also recently cared for my mother and father through several serious health issues. These experiences have made me aware of the stresses and challenges caregivers in guardianship cases may face.

My professional experience has also prepared me for ruling on issues that may come before the Probate Court. As a Magistrate in Domestic Relations Court, I have spent nine years presiding over cases involving the most intimate and sensitive family matters, such as ruling on petitions for domestic violence civil protection orders, dividing assets in divorces, and deciding issues relating to custody and parenting time of children. In every case, I strive to be compassionate, fair, and thorough in my decisions.