LIMA — Terri Kohlrieser, the first female in the history of Allen County to be elected to a term as judge of the Court of Common Pleas, was at times overcome with emotion Wednesday as she took the oath of office Wednesday afternoon.
Kohlrieser handily defeated Lima attorney Lawrence Huffman in May in the Republican Party primary election in May, assuring her seat on the bench when no Democrat filed for the position. She will replace retiring Judge David Cheney, who was barred from seeking another term because of an Ohio law that prevents judges over the age of 70 from running for office.
She takes over behind the bench after more than a decade as an assistant Allen County prosecutor.
In front of a courtroom packed with friends and family, Kohlrieser said there are “so many people to thank for this journey,” from her law professors at Ohio Northern University to Judge Stephen Shaw — who issued the oath on Wednesday — for whom she worked as a law clerk. She said judges Jeffrey Reed, David Cheney and former judge Richard Warren were also cited as “people who helped shape me.”
Kohlrieser teared up when talking about her campaign and “all the people who came out of the woodwork and walked door-to-door for me.” She offered special thanks to her unofficial campaign manager and longtime colleague at the prosecutor’s office, Jana Emerick.
“But my most important and biggest cheerleader has been my mother-in-law,” Kohlrieser said, unable to hold back the tears as she looked in the direction of Chris Lehr, her husband’s mother.
“The date of today’s event was not picked by accident. It was eight years ago today that my mother died. She taught me to be a strong and independent woman,” Kohlrieser said.
The judge saved her final thanks for her husband, Todd, and the couple’s two children, Jack and Abby.
Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Juergen Waldick said Kohlrieser’s election “was a bittersweet moment for me; I had to see her go, but she’s doing something even more important for this community now, and that’s being a judge.”
Shaw, prior to issuing the oath, said “there has been a tradition of excellence on the common pleas court bench here and that continues today with Terri. It’s a nice moment for Allen County and for our judicial system.”