LIMA — Despite the fact that Terri Kohlrieser and Lawrence Huffman are both Republican candidates running for Allen County Common Pleas court judge, their backgrounds are fairly different and has helped shape their platforms.
After growing up watching his father practice law, Huffman decided to follow in his footsteps. Once he returned home from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1974 he studied law at Xavier University and then to Ohio Northern University where he received his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctorate degrees.
In 1981 Huffman went into practice and for the past 36 years he has represented clients during trials in Allen, Auglaize, Putnam, Van Wert, Hardin and Hancock counties and at the federal district court in Toledo.
“I represented many criminal defendants and I’ve always knowm that the civil experience you have helps in the criminal cases,” said Huffman during the Allen County Republican Party luncheon Friday. “They call it the practice of law for a reason. There’s always something to learn.”
He believes that mediation is critical when it comes to making decisions as a judge.
“If you agree to mediation it gets both parties together in front of a judge who knows what the case is about and what other cases like that are about,” said Huffman. “Also the judge is able to decide what works and what doesn’t work,” said Huffman.
He also believes as a judge it is important to thoroughly analyze cases before being too quick to make a decision.
“Judge Baldwin had said to me that there comes a time as a judge when you have to be humble enough to stop writing,” he said. “Aware enough that its not about you, the judge. As long as its getting done right you can come in afterward with the decision.”
Unlike Huffman, Kohlrieser who has fulfilled various roles like judicial clerk and prosecutor throughout the greater Lima region, did not have a parent who practiced law. Her father was a Purple Heart-honored Vietnam veteran and her mother was waitress with a 10th grade education.
At a young age, her parents separated and it was during that time that she admired the strength and determination of her mother as she tried to make ends meet without any help.
“I learned the value of hard work,” said Kohlrieser. “She was not the type to rely on government assistance. She was not the type to look for people to help her. So we went about it ourselves which meant at times that meant not knowing if we would eat or have a home one day.”
Although she admired her mother’s endurance during that time, her mother began making decisions that were detrimental to her health so she decided to move out at age 14.
Through it all she graduated from high school on time and with honors. She also graduated magna cum laude from University of Toledo in 1998 and received a high distinction when she received her Juris Doctorate from Ohio Northern University in 2001.
If elected as the judge, she believes that her responsibility would be to commit to helping the community by helping decrease the crime rates. During the luncheon she explained that the vast majority of Ohio judges have experience with felony cases because crime is prevalent in the state.
“Crime has no boundaries,” said Kohlrieser. “You need someone that has experience and I’m the candidate with the experience. I have worked on 1,000 cases over the past decade and have worked with various judges.”
The Allen County primary election is May 8 and residents can begin voting as early as Tuesday.
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews