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Toledo Legal News - News Newly elected to the 6th District Court of Appeals, Judge Osowik is ready for new challenges

 

photo of Judge Thomas OsowikRecent addition to the 6th District Court of Appeals Judge Osowik met his future bride for the first time while an undergrad at the University of Toledo. Thomas Osowik was introduced by some colleagues of his to a young pharmacy student named Rosemarie. “She was home coming queen and I don't know why she ever dated me,” jokes the Judge.

It wasn't love at first sight however. Even though they were introduced while Osowik was still studying political science, they didn't begin to date until he had started law school. “There were three guys in my law school class who married women from the pharmacy school. We all met in the library because we would study all the time. Law and pharmacy students were always in the library.”

Although the two are happily married and the proud parents of four sons, it's hard to imagine that they ever had the time to fall in love. While Osowik was buried under stacks of case law and law reviews, his future wife was busy finishing up her pharmacy degree and subsequently attending the Medical College of Ohio and studying to become a physician, which leads the Judge to joke, “She's really something of a double threat.”

Their courtship went well though and they have now been married for over 20 years. Wedded life suits Judge Osowik well and in many ways he is a dedicated, and consummate, family man. When asked about his affiliations in professional or fraternal associations or even any hobbies he might indulge in, Judge Osowik gestures in the air as if to ask, 'with what time?' “I've been involved with some Bar associations. But I have four boys and my wife works more than 80 hours a week.”

So Judge Osowik devotes nearly all his non-working hours to his sons. And he likes it that way. For Judge Osowik, having time enough to devote to his children is itself something of a luxury, something of an indication of how far he’s come.

A native of Toledo and the son of a factory worker and a house wife, Judge Osowik graduated from UT’s law school just after the dawn of the Regan era. He went immediately to work for a law firm called Legal Centers of Neller Dettelbach along with fellow future judges Denise Dartt and Nepper. After a year, Osowik decided he would be better off working for himself and promptly began his private practice in Northwood, Ohio.

As a solo practicioner, Judge Osowik put in long hours and logged an impressive number of miles on his car. “I used to travel all around Northwest Ohio because I did all sorts of things. I did bankcuptcy to criminal work, divorce and traiffic. So I was in courts all over.”

On top of that, by 1985 Osowik was working overtime as both a private practice attorney and as an Assistant Attorney General, a job which only increased the amount of time he spent on the road. “Anthony Cellebrezze, Jr was the Attorney General at the time and there were two of us who were part time assistants. I would represent the Bureau of Employment Services when cases made their way to a court of common pleas or appeals. My jurisdiction was 12 counties in Northwest Ohio.”

Judge Osowik had more than just his duties as an attorney to eat into his time though. He was involved in helping then Governor Celeste appoint judges and donated his time to judical campaigns. “I was the campaign treasurer for Judge Weir when he ran. It involves an awful lot of paperwork. So if you’re a treasurer once then you get asked to do it for everyone. So I ended up involved in other campaigns as well."

It was that process, the campaigns and advising on appointments that first got Judge Osowik interested in becoming a judge himself. “Quite frankly, I thought I could be as good a judge as the people Governor Celeste was appointing.”

However, Judge Osowik would have to continue assisting in his peer’s campaigns and pulling double duty as a private practice attorney and an Assistant Attorney General for six years. It wasn’t until 1991, when a departing Governor Celeste appointed him to the Toledo Municipal Bench that Osowik was afforded the little luxury of having only a single job. “Judge Singer and I were appointed at the same time. Judge Celeste had served his two terms and we were appointed literally days before he left office.”

Judge Osowik kept the busy schedule and heavy docket of a Municipal Court judge for 14 years before campaigning for a seat at Common Pleas in 2005. He began his term at Common Pleas in 2006 and was soon as busy as he ever was at Municipal, if not busier. In 2006 Judge Osowik sat on the Father Gerald Robinson trial, The Westhaven case, and the Noe/Coingate trial.

And to top off that incredible year, he ran for, and was elected to fulfill the last two years of Appeals Court Justice Lanzinger’s term. “I ran for re-election at Municipal in 2003, I was on the ballot for Common Pleas in 2004 and again for Appeals in 2005. I’ll be running to keep my Appeals seat next year. That’s four times I’ve been on a ballot in five years. That isn’t easy for a judge, or anybody, but that’s how it goes.”

As befits the man’s character, Judge Osowik finds escape and relaxation in simple pleasures, such as riding his bike nearly every day, time and weather permitting.

Judges are in the habit of decorating their offices with little knick knacks and tochtokes that tend to give hints to their personalities. The most telling artifact in Judge Osowik’s office hanges behind his desk. It is a large, framed photograph depicting a lighthouse besieged by crashing “Perfect Storm” sized waves. Standing in the doorway is the lighthouse's keeper, not defiant but instead cheerfully embracing the storm around him. It is easy to replace the lighthouse keeper's face with that of Judge Osowik's. He is a man who keeps pace with a wife who works 80 hours a week, who corrals his four sons, who spent 20 years in the trenches of the Municipal and Common Pleas courts, Judge Osowik stands tall, unbowed by the storm by moving with the waves rather than fighting them.

Michael Davisson, Toledo Legal News Staff Writer

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