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Judge Jill Flagg Lanzinger elected to 9th District Court of Appeals

Judge Jill Flagg Lanzinger took her seat on the 9th District Court of Appeals on Feb. 11, after being sworn in by (now retired) Judge Lynne Callahan. Judge Lanzinger was elected to fill Callahan's seat. The swearing-in ceremony is pictured here. (Photo courtesy of Jill Flagg Lanzinger).

Legal News Reporter

Published: March 17, 2023

During her time on the Barberton Municipal Court bench, Judge Jill Flagg Lanzinger started and presided over the Drug Court program, providing services to participants to help them get clean and sober and avoid future involvement with the criminal justice system.
The program, which has since been certified by the Ohio Supreme Court as a specialized docket has assisted numerous participants in leading productive lives.
Most recently, she presided over the Barberton Municipal Mental Health Court, monitoring individuals to ensure they adhered to their treatment and tracking their progress as they worked to rebuild their lives.
Now she’s hoping to make a positive impact on the 9th District Court of Appeals bench after being elected to fill the seat vacated by Judge Lynne Callahan, who retired on Feb. 10.
“I’m excited to be here,” said Judge Lanzinger, who started at the court on Feb. 11. “I’m really enjoying working with the judges and staff at the court.
“The pace here is much different than municipal court, where I could see 50 people in a day and be called upon to rule on numerous issues.
“At the 9th District, it’s a much slower pace that allows me the luxury of taking more time to research legal issues and read briefs, both of which I enjoy.”
In an email, 9th District Court of Appeals Administrative Judge Jennifer Hensal wrote, “This has been a time of transition at the court of appeals. We have said farewell to wonderful colleagues and we have welcomed new colleagues who bring with them a breadth of trial court and practice experience. 
“Judge Lanzinger, who most recently sat on the Barberton Municipal Court brings to the court of appeals her appellate and trial practice experiences as well as an understanding of some of the challenges specific to our municipal courts.”
Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Alison McCarty said she believes Judge Lanzinger’s skill set will serve her extremely well as an appellate judge.  
“I first met Judge Lanzinger when she served as my law clerk at the Akron Municipal Court,” said Judge McCarty. “She was still in law school. She later appeared in front of me when she was a lawyer and we served together on the common pleas court bench. We’re also good friends.
“She is very smart and has always been intellectually curious, enjoyed researching and writing and previously did a lot of appellate work when she was a lawyer on many serious cases such as murder. 
“I think her background makes her a very good fit for the 9th District,” said Judge McCarty. “She is a people person and even though the 9th District can be a little detached from the public by design, I know Judge Lanzinger will find a way to it make it more social. She always has a smile on her face and brightens up my day every time I see her.”
Now retired 9th District Court of Appeals Judge Lynne Callahan, who swore Judge Lanzinger in expressed similar sentiments.
“I first met Jill when I was an Akron Municipal court judge and she was a court intern,” said Callahan. “She and her husband had two young children at that time and they were both attending post-graduate professional schools. Money was tight. They even rented a portion of their house to help make ends meet.
“But in the end, drive, dedication and enthusiasm made things work out for them,” said Callahan. “Those qualities will serve Judge Lanzinger well on the appellate bench.” 
Born and raised in Fostoria, Ohio Judge Lanzinger first became interested in the legal profession when she was a student at Lakota High School.
“I was concerned about social issues and I wanted to make an impact,” said Judge Lanzinger. “I thought I could do that by using my strengths in writing and research to become an attorney.”
As an undergraduate at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio, she majored in political science and psychology, earning her bachelor’s degree in three years.
“In college, I was an intern at the Seneca County Public Defender Office,” she said.
While attending The University of Akron School of Law she served as a law clerk to then Akron Municipal Court Judge Alison McCarty (now a common pleas court judge).
She also worked for the Stark County Prosecutor’s Office as a legal intern.
After obtaining her juris doctorate in 2004, Judge Lanzinger was a sole practitioner and briefly worked as an associate at a small firm in Hudson.
During her more than ten years in private practice, she also served as a part-time magistrate at Akron Municipal Court.
She first took the Barberton Municipal Court bench in February 2015 after being appointed by former Ohio. Gov. John Kasich.
That same year, she started the Drug Court program, which was certified as a specialized docket in 2016.
“I consider the program to be my greatest accomplishment as a judge so far,” said Judge Lanzinger. “It now lives on through Judge Todd McKenney.”
In March 2017, former Gov. Kasich appointed Judge Lanzinger to the Summit County Common Pleas Court to fill Judge Thomas Teodosio’s seat after his election to the 9th District Court of Appeals.
Judge Lanzinger served on the common pleas bench from April 2017 to May 2019.
After losing her bid for re-election to the common pleas court, she returned to Barberton Municipal Court in 2020, unseating her Democratic opponent, former Barberton Judge David Fish.
It was upon her return to the bench that she presided over the Barberton Municipal Mental Health Court.
“I will miss being involved with the specialty courts, which provide the chance to interact and help people on a person-to-person level,” said Judge Lanzinger. “I got to know many of the participants in both the drug and mental health courts.”
A member of the Ohio State, Akron, Lorain County, Medina County and Wayne County bar associations and an Akron Bar Foundation fellow, Judge Lanzinger said she believes it’s important for judges to give back to the community.
She currently sits on the board of the Portage Lakes Polar Bear Club, which held its 19th annual jump on Feb. 25.
This year’s event, which Judge Lanzinger participated in raised over $175,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeast Ohio Inc. and the (Akron) Rotary Camp for Children with Special Needs.
“This was my 10th year jumping,” she said. “It’s ridiculously cold but it’s for a good cause.”
The club alternates beneficiaries between this year’s recipients and the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, which received the proceeds from the 2022 jump.
The mother of three is also a member of Magic City Kiwanis and the Rotary Club of Akron.
She served on the Portage Lakes Advisory Council for nine years, resigning from her position at the end of 2022.
While she’s still new to the appellate bench, she does have at least one idea on how to improve the court’s operation.
“During the pandemic, the court relied on Zoom to conduct oral arguments,” said Judge Lanzinger. “Right now, most of the oral arguments are done in person.
“I would like to see the court adopt procedures for when it’s appropriate to use technology so that we do not return to pre-pandemic times when everything had to be done in person.”