Tammy O’Brien joined the Summit County Common Pleas Court in difficult circumstances, filling the judgeship vacated through the death of Brenda Burnham Unruh. Now O’Brien is running to complete the unexpired term. She admits that she has learned much the past 17 months. What many at the courthouse have discovered is that O’Brien has performed well in the job, smart and organized, open and fair.
We recommend the election of Tammy O’Brien on Nov. 6.
In two decades of practicing law, O’Brien gained wide experience, including some criminal matters. Mostly, she represented businesses and organizations in civil litigation, in federal and state courts, ranging from the simpler to the complex. Count among O’Brien’s strengths her community involvement, among other things, serving on the board of HM Life Opportunity Services and recently as a member of the State Board of Education.
In this race, the key is her work on the bench. More than anything, her temperament stands out. O’Brien combines a willingness to listen with the right capacity for decision-making, informed, timely and thoughtful. She also has an eye on the court moving forward, examining such issues as indigent appeals and the use of specialty courts.
Her opponent is Kathryn Michael, a judge on the Akron Municipal Court the past seven years. Michael won re-election a year ago. She presides well in the family violence specialty court. No question, Michael brings her own broad experience and strengths. Of late, she also has invited questions about her judgment, her campaign fined for improperly accepting a campaign contribution and Michael — from the bench — encouraging an appreciative defendant during a plea agreement to spread the word about voting for her. Neither of these episodes are part of a persuasive case for the “promotion” she seeks.