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Toledo Legal News - News Common Pleas’ Judge Linda Jennings: For Love of Family & Perseverance

 

photo of Judge Linda JenningsIn Chambers with:…Personal Profiles of Lucas County Judges

Common Pleas’ Judge Linda Jennings: For Love of Family & Perseverance

As one of Common Pleas Court’s more recent additions, Judge Linda Jennings brings a little flavor to the Court bench. That flavor comes, partially, from the gourmet food her husband, William learns to prepare from the Food Network. Some of it simmers up from the ballroom dance lessons the two of them take. A dash comes from the traveling she’s done in her life, picked up from places like Italy and New Orleans. Most of it, however, comes from her family, the one that raised her as a child and the one she created with her husband.

Linda Jennings was raised at an early age to value hard work. “My parents taught me a good work ethic,’ she says, thinking back to her childhood. It was a value that would serve her well from her first after-school job at Petries clothing store where she was paid on commission to raising her family with her husband, to going to college, and throughout her professional career.

Jennings had already started her own family with William, whom she met at a bowling alley in Toledo, when she began attending school at UT for her undergraduate degree, a bachelor’s in geology. It was as an undergrad that Jennings first began to think about becoming a lawyer, but at the time she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to go for it. “Because I had a young family, it took me a long time to get my bachelor’s degree, but then I had the opportunity and I thought, ‘well, better do it now’.” It wasn’t necessarily easy though. Even while in law school Judge Jennings continued to juggle her husband, children and working days at Ohio Bell with taking classes at night. Still, it was something she felt she had to do. “My husband will tell you that he went to law school, and then I went to get even with him, so that’s why I went.”

After obtaining her J.D., Jennings spent the next 20 years working in private practice and as a public defender. For 15 of those years she worked alongside her husband as a partner of Jennings & Jennings. During those years she specialized in criminal defense and family law. Her husband, on the other hand, was much more of a civil practice attorney; business, probate and real estate. “We had different fields but we worked together. For a while there we were in the Spitzer building, I think every attorney in Toledo is in the Spitzer building at some point or another.”

As her parents had taught her, Linda Jennings worked hard as an attorney, both in terms of quantity and quality. Ethics were always important to her. “When I gave someone my word, I kept my word. I never wanted to do anything that was unethical in any way at all.” It’s no coincidence that for a time Judge Jennings was the only woman in Lucas County certified to act as lead counsel in a death penalty case.

It’s not only in her profession that Judge Jennings’ work ethic shines through. Over the years she has been an active member of the Toledo, Ohio and American Bar Associations as well as the Ohio Common Pleas Judges Association and the Lucas County Public Defender Commission. She is also a former board member of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and is proud of the organization’s battered women’s shelter and rape crisis center.

Since her home life is no less active than her work life, Judge Jennings is sure to keep busy off the clock. If she’s not ballroom dancing or traveling across the country and Europe she’s casting jewelry in gold, silver or bronze. She also studies Italian and hopes to speak it fluently. If she ever does get a quiet moment she loves to read, especially a good murder mystery. But with nine grandchildren who love to visit she can hardly find the time to sit and crack open a good book.

Judge Jennings is a recent addition to the Court and is already in love with the job. She ran for Judge Wittenberg’s seat when he retired and while running that race was appointed to Judge Zouhary’s seat after he was appointed to the Federal Court. She has since been re-elected and is serving a full term. She compares her current position with her job as a public defender and finds herself much happier on this side of the bench. “As a judge it really seems like you can make a difference, it seems like it’s so worthwhile. It seems like I can really do something for the community.”

Judge Jennings presides over a busy common pleas court and she relies on her ethics, her sense of justice and fair play to help her navigate through the many cases she hears day in, day out. “Every day we [judges] have to be fair, we have to be impartial, we have to be temperate and independent. And it’s got to be constant.” Her willingness to put in hard work and her dedication to ensuring that the law is handled in a fair and just manner make her a first-rate judge and she’s proud to serve in an institution as honorable as the court system. “We have one of the best systems in the world. And you know, it may have a little flaw here that may need to be tweaked, but I think the system is fair and it works.”

Michael Davidson, Toledo Legal News Staff Writer

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