YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – With the introductions of Judges Mary DeGenaro, Cheryl Waite and Carol Robb, history was made Wednesday morning at the Seventh District Court of Appeals in Youngstown. For the first time since the court was established in 1851, three women are sitting on a panel at the same time.
The newcomer, Judge Robb, becomes the first from Columbiana County to sit on this bench in nearly 100 hundred years. She said her decision last year to run for the court that covers southeastern Ohio was more than a little daunting.
“When I first made the commitment and filed the petitions, I felt overwhelmed. Where do you begin? It is eight counties,” Robb said.
While Robb ultimately won the seat left open with the retirement of Judge Joe Vukovich, it had been fourteen years since the last time someone new joined the bench when Mary DeGenaro defeated incumbent Ed Cox. There is not a lot of turnover on the bench.
“There are several reasons, but people tend not to take on or tackle judgeships when there is a judge that has been sitting there doing a good job,” Waite said.
While none of the state’s twelve Appeals Courts have only women on them, there are still two with none at all.
“That just makes the point that it is no longer exceptional. It is the rule, and her election keeps that door wide open,” said Degenaro.
The judges agree the historical novelty of the situation won’t last for long.
“We are all here for a common goal and that is to pursue justice. That is the commitment we all have,” Robb said.