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-- (August 31, 2017) Judge Charles Kurfess was honored today as the recipient of the 2017 Thomas J. Moyer Award for Judicial Excellence at the Ohio Judicial Conference Annual Meeting in Columbus. Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) President Randall Comer presented the award.
The Moyer award was established in 2010 by the OSBA in honor of the late Chief Justice, who was posthumously given the inaugural award, to recognize a current or former Ohio state or federal judge who displays outstanding qualities of judicial excellence including integrity, fairness, open-mindedness, knowledge of the law, professionalism, ethics, creativity, sound judgment, courage and decisiveness.
"Through a lifelong career committed to the advancement of the rule of law and the administration of justice, Judge Kurfess has demonstrated these qualities in spades," President Comer said.
In addition to serving 12 years on the bench as a Wood County Common Pleas Judge, he served in the Ohio General Assembly for 22 years (from 1956 – 1978), including six as Speaker of the House, where he was at the forefront of judicial reform, criminal justice reform, civil rights and access to justice issues.
In many ways, Judge Kurfess was ahead of his time. In 1978, he ran for Governor and although he did not win the primary, he was the first candidate in Ohio history to choose a woman as his running mate. Following his legislative service, he went back to Wood County to practice law and joined the bench as a common pleas judge in 1990.
In nominating him for the award, Judge Matthew Reger, who was a staff attorney for Judge Kurfess from 1993-1996, said he saw "first-hand his innovation in addressing criminal defendants," and finding unique ways to rehabilitate while meting out the proper punishment.
Always curious and inquisitive, Judge Kurfess has always been drawn to the less-than-clear questions of law. He asked good questions and never assumed. He also paid special attention to jurors in his courtroom, showing great respect for their time and encouraging them to ask questions of expert witnesses when appropriate to keep them engaged in the case.
A graduate of Bowling Green State University and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Judge Kurfess attended law school while serving in the Ohio General Assembly. In fact, when he earned his JD in 1957, he already had one term under his belt.
Judge Kurfess has been previously recognized as a distinguished alumnus of Bowling Green State University, was awarded Honorary Life Fellowship by the Ohio State Bar Foundation
and was recently named the 2017 recipient of the Archie M. Griffin Professional Achievement Award by The Ohio State University Alumni Association. The Ohio State Bar Association, founded in 1880, is a voluntary association representing approximately 28,000 members of the bench and bar of Ohio. Through its activities and the activities of its related organizations, the OSBA serves both its members and the public by promoting the highest standards in the practice of law and the administration of justice.