Prior to that post, Julie Edwards was a judge at Stark County Family Court for 10 years. She was the first woman elected to that position.
Another judicial post opened in Stark County with Judge Julie A. Edwards announcing she will leave the 5th District Court of Appeals at year’s end.
Edwards, 59, of Jackson Township, is the third Republican judge to retire this year in Stark County. Her replacement will be appointed by Gov. John Kasich.
Edwards, who has a little more than four years left on her third term, said Wednesday that changes in the state pension system got her thinking about retirement earlier this year, although making the decision was “horribly difficult.”
“This is a very comfortable place for me to be,” she said of the legal system, where she has worked for 34 years. “It’s home.”
Edwards started her legal career as a county prosecutor, and later became the chief magistrate of Stark County Family Court.
In 1988, she was the first woman to be elected to that court, which she said coincided with a time of growing sensitivity to women’s issues, such as child support and domestic violence.
After 10 years of judging high-emotion cases involving child abuse, divorces and juvenile delinquency, Edwards won a seat on the 5th District Court of Appeals. It took her a few months to adjust to the change of pace.
“I would walk up and down the hall, looking for action,” Edwards said. “There wasn’t any.”
Instead, there was a lot of reading, and the challenge of becoming familiar with the wide range of cases that come before an appeals court covering 15 counties.
“She’s very intelligent and very thoughtful and compassionate toward people,” said W. Scott Gwin, a Democrat and the senior judge on the appeals court.
He also praised Edwards’ preparation and professionalism.
“I found her to be top notch,” Gwin said.
Judge John W. Wise, a Republican on the appeals court, said Edwards kept an open mind and was a valuable resource on family law, given her experience in that court.
“She had an honest, thoughtful process in coming to her decisions,” he said.
Edwards said she’ll miss the people she has worked with, along with the challenge of working on a new legal problems.
She said she plans to spend more time with her 85-year-old mother, and to catch up on some other things she hasn’t had time for. While she doesn’t have any long-range plans, she doesn’t rule out running for another office some day.
But Edwards said she can’t imagine another task in life more important than being a judge because courts protect rights and serve as a thin line between civility and chaos.
“What we do matters,” Edwards said. “I hate to say that’s a very cool thing, but it’s a very cool thing.”