The daughter of a school teacher, Justice Judith French has long had a special interest in education.
As an attorney, she served as a tutor and mentor in the Columbus Public Schools and since she’s been on Ohio’s highest court she has spoken frequently to students around the state, especially those studying the Ohio Judicial system, either in their classrooms or those visiting the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center.
During her time as chief counsel and assistant Attorney General in the Office of state Attorney General Betty D. Montgomery, French argued two cases before the United States Supreme Court, including the Cleveland School Vouchers case decided in 2002, in which she served as lead counsel.
The Supreme Court supported Ohio in a 5-4 decision in which the court ruled that the voucher program in Cleveland did not infringe upon the constitutional separation of church and state.
French, who is married to Ed Skeens, a magistrate with the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, was appointed to the Supreme Court of Ohio in December 2012 by Gov. John Kasich to fill a vacancy on the court when Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton announced she was retiring.
French became the 155th justice of the Ohio Supreme Court on Jan. 1, 2013.
“She’s got a lot of fire in her and I’m just very excited to do this,” said Kasich at the time of her appointment.
She was elected to her first full term in 2014 and since has traveled throughout Ohio, visiting all 88 counties.
French was re-elected to a six-year term in 2014, defeating Cleveland-area judge John P. O’Donnell.
For the past two decades, Justice French has worked in public service, having served the state of Ohio as deputy director for legal affairs in the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, an assistant attorney general, counsel to the governor, and as a judge with the 10th District Court of Appeals.
From 2002 to 2004, Justice French served as chief legal counsel to Gov. Bob Taft. In that role, she served as the chair of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Task Force, which made recommendations to the legislature for making Ohio’s sex-offender laws more effective.
In 2004, Justice French was elected to the 10th District Court of Appeals, which hears appeals from Franklin County courts and state administrative agencies. While a judge on the court of appeals for eight years, she authored more than 800 legal opinions.
French also has vast experience in the corporate and private-practice law.
She began her career as an attorney with the Columbus law firm of Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur, specializing in environmental law. French also served as in-house counsel for a large manufacturing company.
French grew up in Sebring, a small town in Mahoning County, and graduated from Sebring McKinley High School in 1980. She then attended The Ohio State University, where she received three degrees: a B.A. in political science, an M.A. in history (with a concentration in military history and strategic studies), and a J.D., with honors.
She serves her alma mater as a member of the Moritz College of Law National Council.
She now lives in Grandview Heights with her husband. They have two children.