Former Hamilton police officer, Butler County Domestic Relations judge and state Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy took the oath of office as the 11th chief justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio in a formal investiture ceremony Wednesday in Columbus.
Judge Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, retired justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio, administered the oath of office as Kennedy’s niece Alyse Pasternak held the bible.
The Butler County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard led the procession and Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Howard spoke during the ceremony.
Kennedy donned the robe of her mentor, retired Butler County Common Pleas Judge Matthew J. Crehan of Hamilton, who died Tuesday. She clerked for Crehan when he was a practicing attorney, and he was the first to tell her she could make it all the way to the supreme court.
Kennedy, a resident of Liberty Twp., was elected as an associate justice in 2012 and twice re-elected in 2014 and 2020. She was elected in 2022 to lead the state judicial branch of government.
Kennedy grew up in Colerain Twp. about five miles from the Fairfield border, graduating from Northwest High School.
Kennedy worked as a civilian assistant to the Hamilton police chief while in law school and was a clerk for then-attorney Matthew Crehan, who became a longtime common pleas judge. But her time carrying a badge changed the way she looks at the law and life. Crehan dead Tuesday at the age of 86.
“You carry that experience, which is hard to describe to people. My phraseology is you never look at the world the same when you have looked at it through the windshield of a cruiser,” Kennedy said. “You learn a lot about yourself, but you also learn patience; being able to work through difficult situations. Taught me not to be quick to judgement. I just think of all the decision I made in law enforcement, whether to stop, whether to search or frisk, arrest.”
Kennedy said she was “very lucky in some very bad situations.”
Crehan, a retired common pleas judge, was the person who pushed Kennedy to seek a judgeship, even the supreme court, and encouraged her to get involved in county political organizations and working on campaigns. All the while Kennedy was a defense attorney, litigating cases throughout the county.
Kennedy served as Butler County Common Pleas domestic relations judge beginning in 1999. From 2005 until December of 2012, Kennedy was the administrative judge of that division.
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