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First female common pleas judge sworn in for county

December 27, 2018

IRONTON — Christen N. Finley, Lawrence County’s first-ever female common pleas judge, was sworn in Friday by Ohio Supreme Court Judge Sharon L. Kennedy.

“Today is the dawn of a new day in Lawrence County,” Kennedy said. “For on this day, we bear witness to Judge-Elect Finley taking an oath to uphold the Constitutions of the United States and the state of Ohio and the laws of this state. And with her taking of this oath, Lawrence Countians will begin to hold her accountable for the pledges she has made.”

Finley ran on a promise of “justice without politics.” That is the embodiment of the rule of law, the idea that ours is a government of laws, not men, and it is the foundation of our constitutional rights, Kennedy said.

“For all of us to stand equal in the eyes of the law, all of us have access to the courts,” Kennedy said. “All of us are entitled to due process of law.”

Finley also is committed to undertake the development of family drug treatment solutions in Lawrence County, Kennedy said.

“Recognizing that substance abuse has become a generational issue feeding more and more of our family members and neighbors straight into the justice system, she has envisioned a way to stop the cycle and strengthen the fabric of this community through substance abuse treatment,” she said.

Her election “is a shining example to the young women of Lawrence County and the daughters and sisters who may have thought that in order to achieve their American dream, they would have to leave home,” Kennedy said.

Finley stayed and succeeded, the justice said.

Finley said she was overwhelmed by the amount of support she received in her first attempt at elected office.

She quoted a line from the first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: “We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone ... and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads form one to another to create something.”

O’Connor was sworn into office in 1981, the same year Finley was born.

“I think I was born for this,” Finley said.

Finley said all of the people in the packed courtroom for her swearing in “are part of my tapestry. “I hope I make you proud.”

Finley succeeds Judge Charles “Chuck” Cooper who spent 12 years on the bench. She will take over in January.

“I am certain that you will do fine and be both a fair and compassionate judge,” Cooper said in a letter to Finley.

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