Russell J. Mock

Office: For Judge of the First District Court of Appeals
Term Beginning 2/9/2021

Age: 50

Residence: Cincinnati



Social Media: Twitter: @JudgeMock

Occupation: Judge, First District Court of Appeals

Education: J.D. from the Pettit College of Law at Ohio Northern University. B.A. from the University of Dayton.

Work Experience: I was elected to the First District Court of Appeals in 2014. I am currently serving my third term as the Presiding and Administrative Judge. In 2018, I was honored to sit by assignment on the Ohio Supreme Court. Prior to my election to the Court of Appeals, I served for over ten years as a judge on the Hamilton County Municipal Court. Before becoming a judge I worked in private practice and served as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s office.

Family: Father of two daughters.

Affiliations: I am a member of the Ohio State Bar Association, the Cincinnati Bar Association and the Ohio Judicial College where I serve on the Judicial Ethics, Professionalism & Diversity and Public Confidence & Community Outreach committees. I was appointed by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor to serve as a member of the Commission on Professionalism.


Bar Association Ratings: 

(1) List your judicial experience (courts and years)
In 2004, I became a judge on the Hamilton County Municipal Court. For 11 years, I presided over tens of thousands of cases, conducting numerous jury trials. I saw people at their lowest and their worst. It was during this time that I honed the discretion and discernment I relied on to understand the difference between someone who had made a mistake and one who was truly a threat to our community. I also served as the county’s housing court judge, a position in which I successfully balanced the rights of property owners with the concerns of our communities over blight and urban decay. My experience running this docket over the years was one of the clearest examples for me of how the decisions of judges affect not only the people involved in the cases before them, but also the community as a whole.

After more than a decade on the municipal court, I was elected to the Court of Appeals in 2014. Serving on the appellate bench has required me to utilize everything I have learned in both private practice, as a prosecutor, and as a trial court judge. Having served as both a trial attorney and a trial judge, I was able to bring a level of practical knowledge to the bench that was essential to me assuming that role.

I have authored hundreds of opinions for the court in all areas of law. Judicial opinions are not akin to research papers or journal articles–the decisions appellate judges make have real-world consequences for both the parties involved in the cases and the people of Hamilton County. The stakes here can be tremendously high, and I rely on everything I have learned every day to reach decisions that are legally sound, fair to the parties, and just.

While conducting all of my regular duties as a judge on the appeals court, I have also served as the court’s presiding and administrative judge since 2017–managing the court’s operation, presiding over conferences, and overseeing the release of the opinions and entries of the court. In this role, I have seen areas that have needed improvement and taken steps to remedy them. But, more importantly, I have learned that the court is made up of a dedicated staff who work hard on a daily basis to serve the people of Hamilton County, and it is an honor for me to work with them.

(2) What about your non-judicial legal experience qualifies you to be a judge?
I began my legal career as a solo practitioner in Hamilton County, assisting a variety of individuals and small businesses with their legal needs in civil and criminal matters. My favorite part about that portion of my career was using the skill set I had been given to help those who needed it at a time when they are struggling with some of their greatest challenges. While doing this, I learned how the court system impacts real people.

In 2001, I joined the Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney’s office. While working there, I prosecuted thousands of criminal defendants, including some of the worst offenders in the county. This experience with litigation, working with victims and understanding their needs, and seeing that only the truly guilty were punished, gave me a keen insight into all aspects of the judicial process and, more importantly, the people it impacts.

I am also a frequent lecturer on various legal topics. I have spoken to numerous organizations, including the Cincinnati Bar Association, the Lawyers Club of Cincinnati, the Hamilton County Police Association, and seminars offered by the First District Court of Appeals and the Hamilton County Municipal Court. Giving back to the legal community that has given me so much is a true pleasure, and I count it a blessing that I am able to do so.

(3) Why are you running for this particular court seat?
It has been my honor to serve on the Court of Appeals for the last six years. But I believe that I could not have done as well as I have without the lifetime of experience that has prepared me to serve. And I cannot emphasize enough how crucial my years as a trial court judge have been in preparing me to work at the appellate level. An appellate judge reviews the decisions of trial judges. In order to understand and evaluate their performance, my experience as an actual trial judge has been vital. Without that insight, an appellate judge would be in danger of crafting rules and decisions that are simply unworkable on a practical level. Just as you would not want a surgeon who has only read about surgery, you would not want an appellate judge who has not had real experience to draw from.

My experience as an attorney and trial judge has taught me that each one of the cases that comes before us involves real people with real problems. And while an individual case may not be a high-profile murder trial or a multi-million dollar civil lawsuit, that case is supremely important to the people involved. But, having worked directly with litigants for as long as I have, I have learned that each one of those files represents someone who has come seeking to be heard, to be treated fairly, and to receive a result that is just. And they deserve a judge fully equipped for that task.

It is very important for an appellate judge to understand judicial restraint. Again, that may seem obvious when you are looking at this job from the outside. Sometimes appellate judges face prior decisions with which they may not personally agree, but they are the law. And I follow the law. I will take the time to point out the reasons that I disagree with that rule and suggest ways that it could be changed, but I will not create new laws while sitting on the bench. I have worked hard on each and every case on which I have been involved.

It is my sincere hope that I will get the opportunity to continue to serve as a judge and continue to use my experience for the benefit of the people of Hamilton County.