OSBA honors two Ohio judges with Moyer Award for Judicial Excellence

Judge Sheila G. Farmer and Judge Walter H. Rice were honored as recipients of the 2014 Thomas J. Moyer Award for Judicial Excellence at the Ohio Judicial Conference Annual Meeting in Columbus. Ohio State Bar Association President Martin E. Mohler presented the awards.

“Both Judge Farmer and Judge Rice have long been recognized for qualities that Chief Justice Moyer also exhibited. Judge Farmer worked with Chief Justice Moyer as chair of the Ohio Judicial Conference and is known for her education, mentoring and peacemaking efforts, and for her ability to help the Fifth District Court remain above political discord. Judge Rice is known for his patience, especially with the attorneys who come before him, for his commitment to serving the needs of the most vulnerable in his community, and for his efforts to encourage dialogue among his fellow citizens. These two jurists are more than deserving of this award,” said Mohler.

The 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.

In Judge Farmer’s 37 years on the bench, she has served the Massillon Municipal Court, the Stark County Court of Common Pleas and has served on the Fifth District Court of Appeals since 1993. A graduate of Marymount College and Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Judge Farmer began her career as Assistant Cleveland City Police Prosecutor. Following several hears in private practice, she was elected to the bench in 1978. She became the presiding and administrative judge for the Massillon Municipal Court District. While in that position, she established a night court for traffic offenders and wrote a pamphlet titled, “Victims Reparation Fund” to help victims of crime. Appointed to the Stark County Court of Common Pleas in 1983 and elected in 1984, she has served as both presiding and administrative judge. Judge Farmer is known as a leader in her native Canton. She has given 20 years of service to the Girl Scouts and has served on the boards of Walsh University, Mercy Medical Center, United Way of Western Stark County and the Stark County Humane Society. In 2009, she received the Lex Cristi award for her commitment to her profession and the local community. A mentor for many young women who have benefitted from her encouragement as they pursue legal careers, Judge Farmer also served on the Supreme Court of Ohio Gender Bias Task Force.

A 1958 graduate of Northwestern University who received a joint J.D. and M.B.A. degree from Columbia University in 1962, Judge Rice entered private practice in Dayton after his admission to the Ohio bar. After serving as an assistant Montgomery County prosecutor for two years, he returned to private practice for several years before becoming First Assistant County Prosecutor in 1969. Judge Rice began his career on the bench as a Dayton Municipal Court judge in 1970. He began his service on the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas in 1971, and was nominated for service to the federal court by President Carter in in 1980. He served as the Southern District’s chief judge from 1996 until 2003, and assumed senior status in 2004. He continues to serve as an active district judge. Dedicated to serving the Dayton-area community, Judge Rice is a founding member of its Aviation Heritage Foundation, which aims to ensure that the birthplace of aviation is also known for cutting-edge technology. Judge Rice’s commitment to fairness and justice has been demonstrated through his service as president of the Steering Committee of Dayton’s Dialogue on Race Relations, and his service as co-chair of the Montgomery County Ex-Offender Reentry Policy Board, whose goal is to cut recidivism in half by 2015. Judge Rice serves on the board of directors for “Building Bridges,” an initiative that provides work therapy for hard-core juvenile offenders, and is vice-chair of ISUS, Inc., an alternative high school for at-risk youth. In addition, he is a founding member of the Montgomery County Volunteer Lawyers Project, which helps to provide civil legal services to indigents.



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