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Toledo Legal News - News Focused and dedicated, judge Ramey takes his place among his father, grandfather


photo of Judge M. Scott RameyWhen did you first know what you wanted to do with your life? Once you passed your fireman/princess/astronaut/ballerina phase, how long was it until you figured out your dream career? You could have been one of those unusually ambitious kids who had it all laid out in high school. More likely though, you spent some time wandering through the college wilderness of late mornings, later nights and theater appreciation 101 before realizing what your purpose was. Or maybe you still haven’t quite figured it out yet.

Sylvania Municipal Court Judge M. Scott Ramey’s profession of choice burned bright in his mind, like a beacon, even before high school. He wanted to be an attorney and there was nothing ambiguous about his reasons. “My father was an attorney and my grandfather was a judge. One of my earlier memories is when I was seven or eight, my grandfather invited me come to court with him for a morning session. He was Judge Homer Ramey of the Toledo Municipal Court back when it was in the old Safety Building. He had a chair that was right next to him on the bench. My memories of that are very sharp. It made a very vivid impression on me.”

That experience, watching a trial from the courtroom’s 50 yard line, coupled with growing up the son of an attorney directed Judge Ramey’s young thoughts towards one day becoming a lawyer himself. By the time he was a freshman in high school, and probably a good bit before, his ambition was to pass the bar and practice law.

Having such a goal clearly in mind as a young boy surely influenced the man he grew up to be. Judge Ramey is a goal-oriented man who thinks ahead, pushes himself and seems to thrive when the pressure is turned up. In high school he ran cross-country, which isn’t an activity that’s particularly suited to people looking to do ‘just enough’. Cross-country isn’t like other sports where all you have to do is play better than your opponent. In cross-country running, you have to beat yourself. You have to run harder and faster and longer than you did last time, that’s what matters. You don’t need to be better than the next guy, you need to be better than your best. It’s no coincidence that his favorite adjective seems to be “intense”.

The Judge did well in high school and went on to study political science at Depauw University in Greencastle. The image of license to practice law still shone brightly in his mind. “I majored in political science because I, naively, thought that it would be a good major for going to law school. If I had to redo it, I’d probably major in English instead. English classes make you deal with language skills like writing and speaking, both of which are important for lawyers.”

Finished with his pre-law course work, Judge Ramey moved to Durham, North Carolina to attend law school at Duke University, which he graduated from in 1973.

The Judge then moved back to Toledo and began putting in long hours at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick. Two years later he was made Prosecutor of the Sylvania Municipal Court. He held that position for 12 years before being elected to the Bench in 1987. He is currently serving his fourth term.

When his work history is laid out like that, simply and without frills, it doesn’t seem like enough for a man who constantly pushes himself. A man who once decided that the best way to understand history was to go back to the beginning and so started reading about pre-Roman civilizations and has chronologically read his way through the centuries. But, please consider that during this time he was busy raising a family with his wife, Rebeccah, with whom he had three daughters.

Judge Ramey was an active father, very involved with his daughters. “Until my last child went off to college, their sports and activities were pretty much an all consuming focus for me.” Indeed, Judge Ramey coached his girls’ softball and soccer teams as they grew up. In fact, when his youngest daughter needed a girl’s soccer team to play on, the Judge took it upon himself to start one. “My daughters are all up and grown now. I loved my coaching years but they have passed me by.”

Judge Ramey found that he enjoyed coaching soccer so much that he began to play it as well. “I didn’t know anything about the sport, but I got involved because I was the only one willing to coach my daughter’s team. Well, not to long after someone convinced me that if I was going to try to coach a team I should play on a team. So I got on a team and found that I really loved it. And it really did help me appreciate coaching the kids since I had to go through the same things they did.” Along with photos of family, a caricature of his former team hangs on the walls of his modest office.

In addition to sports, family and work, the Judge also keeps busy with a large number of social obligations. When asked about his community service work the Judge claims, “I like being in a position to give back to my community and I like being involved in a number of different groups.”

That’s something of an understatement. Among other organizations, the judge has been involved with the Sylvania Junior Chamber of Commerce (where he served as Secretary and Internal Vice President), the Holland-Springfield Drug Task Force, the Springfield Dollars for Scholars and the Sylvania Rotary Club, of which he is a former president and current program chairman. “It’s important to be active in the community as a Judge. That way you’re not just this person who sits in a courtroom that people don’t know much about. Plus, when you’re active in the community you can see what peoples’ needs are and what’s going on out there.”

One of the other ways the Judge gives back is through a program he started for elementary school kids. He invites fifth and sixth grade children to come visit his court and observe how the legal system works. “Customarily, I will pick one child from the crowd, at random, to sit next to me in a little chair during a hearing. Afterwards I ask if any of the kids have any questions and someone always asks why I wanted to be a judge. And then I tell them.”

Michael Davisson, Toledo Legal News Staff Writer

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