January 30, 2017 at 8:59 am

CLJC Spotlights Political Science Alum | Kimbler Recounts Experience as a Judge in Medina

Retired Judge James L. Kimbler

Retired Judge James L. Kimbler

Retired Judge James L. Kimbler served first on the Wadsworth Municipal Court from Feb. 10, 1986, to Dec. 31, 1996, and then on the Medina County Common Pleas Court bench from Jan. 1, 1997, to Dec. 31, 2014.

During his tenure as a judge, Kimbler tried over 530 jury trials. He has had more than 50 opinions published by the Ohio Supreme Court. Kimbler was followed by his wife, Joyce V. Kimbler, who became a judge on Jan. 1, 2015.

What brought you to Ohio University?

Between my junior and senior year in high school, which would have been in the summer of 1966, I took part in Boy’s State, which at that time was held on the Ohio University campus. Since I had never been to a college campus before, and since it was and is located in a very scenic part of Ohio, I was really impressed with the campus and the view it gave of college life. I decided then to apply to Ohio University.

What is your current occupation? Explain what you do in a typical day.

Currently I am retired from the Medina County Common Pleas bench. I served as a judge in Medina County for over 28 years. I was the Wadsworth Municipal Court Judge for over 10 years and then I was on the Medina County Common Pleas Court General Division bench for 18 years. Now that I am retired, I sit by assignment from the Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court in various courts around Ohio. I also run a business called Northcoast ADR Services, which specializes in alternative dispute resolution services such as private judging, arbitration, and mediation.

How did you become interested in that field? Was there a particular topic or field of law that got you interested in it in the first place?

I became interested in law because I was very interested in politics and government. I became interested in litigation when I went to work for a law firm in Sandusky, Murray and Murray Co. LPA which specialized in litigation. During my career as a trial judge, I presided over 500 jury trial including a capital murder case and a case that resulted in the largest verdict ever returned by a Medina County jury.

Ret. Judge James Kimbler

What’s your favorite part of your position? What are you passionate about?

The favorite part of being a judge for me was presiding over jury trials, which is something that I am also passionate about and love doing. I believe that a jury trial is the most direct participation that citizens can have in the decisions that are made by their governmental institutions. In most situations, citizens indirectly take part in the decisions made by their government by voting for the people who make decisions on their behalf. When a citizen serves on a jury, however, he or she is taking part in returning a verdict that becomes the decision of the court in which the jury is sitting.

How did your Ohio University experience prepare you for law school and shape your career path?

Ohio University exposed me to a broader world than the world that I had grown up in, and that broadening of my horizons made be a better lawyer and ultimately a better judge.

What do you think were the most important things you did as an undergrad to get you prepared for law school?

Research and writing term papers.

Do you have any advice for students interested in law?

Take as many courses that require you to write and take courses that improve communication skills. Everything that lawyers do involve communications. Whether a lawyer is writing a brief or a motion, arguing a case in court, drafting a contract, representing someone in a divorce, advising a corporation, or appearing in an appellate court, that lawyer is engaged in communicating to others. I have told law students that lawyers are in the communication business and what we communicate about is the law.

What is your favorite Ohio University memory?

I have so many that it is hard to choose. Whether it was attending movies at the MIA, going to Bobcat basketball and football games, or attending great concerts, I have great memories of Ohio University and being in Athens, Ohio. In fact I cannot think of a bad memory of the four years that I spent at Ohio University.

Anything else you would like to share?

I enjoyed my time at Ohio University and I have enjoyed the opportunity to think about and remember that time while answering these questions. Thank you for giving me that opportunity!

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