Jennifer McTernan For Common Pleas Judge

Jennifer McTernan

Hello fellow Lakewoodites! My name is Jennifer McTernan and I just wanted to take a moment to introduce myself since you will be seeing my name on your primary ballots in a couple weeks (or sooner if you requested an absentee ballot). I am a lifelong Cuyahoga County resident and after renting in Lakewood for many years, became a homeowner in your community a little over a year ago. I am now running for Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge General Division and was recognized as the highest overall rated candidate in my race by Judge4Yourself.com.

I am a criminal defense attorney with a decade in practice out of an office in Cleveland's Buckeye neighborhood since graduating from CSU College of Law and being admitted to the Ohio bar in 2013. Since then, I have also been admitted to the Sixth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, and both the Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio. I have my own solo practice handling cases for both retained client and assigned clients - those that are indigent and do not have the financial ability to hire an attorney.  For the past decade, I have been in courtrooms throughout Northeast Ohio almost daily, handling a wide variety of cases ranging from low level misdemeanors to high level felonies to juvenile cases to appeals. In particular, the majority of my work for the past decade has been in Common Pleas courts at the Justice Center where I seek to be judge.

Practicing criminal defense litigation further means that I have had the opportunity to not just briefly interact with those that would appear in front of me, but actually get to know them at length throughout my representation of them, making me more mindful of the significance and impact of any judicial decision on the parties involved - whether handing down sentences or even just making every day decisions like whether to continue a court date. Through my practice, I have frequently been a part of discussions with other attorneys, prosecutors, and judges to find creative and innovative solutions to adequately address the needs of a particular case in order to best achieve fairness and justice on a case by case basis. In other situations, however, I have observed missed opportunities that I would hope to address differently from the bench.

I am also trained and qualified to handle criminal cases on Cuyahoga County's Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities specialty docket, and frequently note the importance of getting clients access to mental health and developmental disability services often in combination with addiction or other services, not just in the resolution of their cases but in their everyday lives. Through this work, I already have extensive hands on experience working with my clients, mental health professionals, mental health agency liaisons, mental health judges, etc. to find the plan/services that best address an individual client's needs on a case by case basis. I understand that perhaps the most effective deterrent to someone ending up back in court with a future case, is addressing the underlying causes and getting them access to services. Too often in my current practice, I encounter clients with obvious mental health and/or developmental disability issues that would likely benefit from services, but unfortunately have never previously been assessed or diagnosed, despite having previously been through the system.  As such, I recognize just how important and necessary it is for both attorneys and judges to be able to identify and adequately address these issues, and would continue to advocate for increased awareness of these issues from the bench.

Every day in my practice, I see firsthand the direct impact of these local judicial elections. Judges have so much power over those that appear in front of them and the decisions they make impact so many. When it comes to judges, experience and qualifications matter, and so I humbly ask for your consideration and vote on (or before) March 19.

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Volume 20, Issue 5, Posted 3:51 PM, 03.06.2024