Justice Brunner's Pioneering Path Continues on Supreme Court
By Csaba Sukosd | February 1, 2021
Four years ago, Judge Jennifer Brunner made her debut on the Ohio Supreme Court bench as a visiting judge from the Tenth District Court of Appeals.
Recently, she had an encore, only this time as a Supreme Court justice.
"I'm really going to like this job because the work is so interesting, the cases are important, and all of my colleagues are thoughtful and respectful," Justice Brunner said.
Only a few weeks after being sworn into office, the 162nd justice is getting up to speed with cases and the Court's expansive operations.
"I'm just amazed at the process of how these decisions go through the Court, and roles that the people play, and the understanding that they have of what the roles are," Justice Brunner said.
It isn't the first time the court of last resort's newest member is getting familiar with a large government entity. In 2007, she became Ohio's first female secretary of state.
To date, she remains one of only five women elected to statewide office in a non-judiciary role. Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor is one of the other four, having been elected lieutenant governor in 1998.
As much as Justice Brunner enjoyed that side of civil work, the pioneering public servant has felt most comfortable when sitting behind a bench. First, she served as a Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge from 2001 to 2005, then as a member of the Tenth District from 2015 to 2020.
"Your tools are your words, not just in how you write, but how you interact with others, to help them see your point of view and also be open to listening and hearing their points of view," Justice Brunner said.
Perspective and purpose are paramount for Justice Brunner. The mother of three and foster parent of three more, she and her husband Rick have six grandchildren. Raising children has helped her recognize how ensuring the rule of law benefits Ohioans today and for generations to come.
"When you leave this Earth, the only thing you have to show is what you've done for others, so [being a justice] is a great way to do that," Justice Brunner said.