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Judge Cosme stresses respect for court, laws, and the Constitution

 

OP-ED by Alan Abrams, La Prensa Senior Correspondent


Judge Keila D. Cosme of the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals, based in Toledo, has become a role model for Latinos in her own right.  Last year, she joined United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to make judicial history.

 

Judge Cosme is the first Latina to serve on any of Ohio’s 12 District Courts of Appeals, and Justice Sotomayor is the first Latina to serve on the nation’s highest court.



Judge Cosme with FLOC’s Baldemar Velásquez at OCHLA’s annual awards—both were recipients.

 

Both were appointed by Democrats. Judge Cosme was named to the court on October 30, 2009 by Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and was sworn into office on December 3, 2009.

 

Justice Sotomayor was appointed by President Barack Obama. Both are of Puerto Rican descent.

 

But that’s where the similarities end.  Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have to undergo

a vigorous and often partisan confirmation process in the U.S. Senate, but do not have to seek re-election to the court, having received a lifetime appointment to the bench.

 

Judge Cosme, however, is seeking election November 2, 2010, as the Democratic Party candidate for a full term on the Court of Appeals.

 

She has conducted a campaign that stands out from the name-calling and vitriolic attacks of other candidates this year by refusing to conduct or condone personal attacks on her opponent, Republican candidate, Judge Steve Yarbrough of Sylvania.

 

It is that same refreshing attitude to her responsibilities on the bench that have won her the respect of some of her judicial colleagues.

 

Judge Cosme was 17 years old when she came to the mainland from her native Puerto Rico. She enrolled in Boston University shortly before her 18th birthday, where, as she recalled for an interviewer, her first and greatest challenge was to learn English. 

“Once I overcame that barrier, the rest was easy and enjoyable,” she said. 

 She graduated in 1990 with a double major in Political Science and Sociology.

“I always wanted to be a lawyer,’ recalled Cosme, “But I was not prepared for the rigor and challenge of law school. I was a first generation Latina and the first in my family to go to college.

“Cosme chose Cleveland-Marshall Law School.  She said that “despite my two undergrad majors, I was not prepared for law school—for the way lawyers think and write. For me, it was like learning a third language.

“In law school she began to date fellow classmate Joseph M. D’Angelo, whom she married in 1994, the year of her graduation.  They live in Toledo and have two sons: Roberto and Diego.

Following her graduation, Judge Cosme practiced law at Calfee, Halter & Griswold and later founded her own firm: the Law Offices of Keila Cosme. In 2001, she and her husband formed the Toledo firm of Cosme, D’Angelo & Szollosi, where she focused primarily on commercial and civil litigation.

Judge Cosme serves as a member of the Ohio Association for Justice and the Hispanic National Bar Association and the Ohio Hispanic Bar Association. She also serves as a member of the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee.

Judge Cosme told La Prensa that her interest is “preserving the integrity of the court by being fair and giving everyone a fair shake.  If you treat everyone fairly and equally, the laws will be upheld as they should be and the Constitution is protected.”

While most judicial campaigns generate relatively little excitement from voters, Judge Cosme believes that her cadre of campaign volunteers have transcended the barrier and made the race “very exciting” for voters.

“It is really bringing in people at the grassroots movement,” said Judge Cosme. “I am not a career politician; I have never been in a political race before.  I answered a call to public service leaving a comfort zone in my private life to make a contribution and a difference.”

But that has changed as Judge Cosme finds herself campaigning in the eight counties that comprise the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals. [The Sixth Appellate District in the State of Ohio services eight counties, including Erie, Fulton, Huron, Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Williams, and Wood.  Its primary location is in Toledo, located in Lucas County.] 

She has taken advantage of this opportunity to educate voters about the judicial system and the differences between judges elected to serve on Common Pleas Courts and those on the appellate branch or the state supreme court.

“The Court of Appeals is very different. Because it is a court of record, it is more analytical. A judge has to research the law and how it applies to the facts of the case. It is very much an educational process.

“The greatest challenge is for a judge to remove their personal bias and take themselves out of the equation. Integrity and fairness is vital. A judge can not pass judgment before fully reviewing the case. It is always human nature to have an opinion, which makes this even more of a responsibility,” said Judge Cosme.

“If there is a conflict, a judge has to recuse themselves.  The Court of Appeals is an important court because it is often the court of last resort. The Supreme Court can make a decision on whether to hear a case or not, and only a relatively small portion are heard.

“I have made a personal commitment to continue to serve the residents of these eight counties and I understand the weight and responsibility my job carries. I am fully committed to the principles of fairness and to shape the society that my children will grow up in and in shaping the future of our community,” said Judge Cosme.

On the Internet:
Judge Cosme: http://judgecosme.com/
Judge Yarbrough: http://www.yarbroughforjudge.org/

 

 
We reserve the right to delete or edit any comments we find inappropriate.
Copyright © 2010 by [LaPrensa Newspaper]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02/26/14 20:09:02 -0800.

 

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