Later in the day on Thursday, January 3rd, we attended the investiture of Ms. Michelle Sheehan who was elected with the support of Ms. Margaret W. Wong to the Court of Appeals of Ohio, 8th Appellate District by an overwhelming margin in November of 2018. The ceremonies took place in the Rotunda of the Old Courthouse on Lakeside Avenue.
After the Administration of the Oath by her husband, Judge Brendan Sheehan of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Judge Michelle Sheehan acknowledged her election was very much a team effort and she could not have have won without the dedicated support of so many. She especially thanked her family for giving the opportunity to fulfill her dream of being elected to the judiciary. She promised to make them all proud by her service. We couldn’t help but think that this team attitude was very much in the spirit of Coaches Kyle and McLaughlin, whose presentation at the First Friday Club we had attended earlier.
On this day, our friend, Mr. Lee Fisher, now the Dean of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, assumed the role of master of ceremonies and reminded us that ten years ago he presided over the Administration of the Oath of Judge Brendan Sheehan when he was elected to the Court of Common Pleas. Therefore, he couldn’t have been happier when Judge Michelle Sheehan asked him to do the same for her. He noted that both Judge Michelle and Judge Brendan Sheehan were graduates of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
There were several notable speakers on hand as well:
- Hon. Mary Eileen Kilbane, Administrative Judge, 8th District Court of Appeals, who introduced all of the other Appeals Court judges who were present and asked all elected officials to stand and be recognized.
- Cuyahoga County Councilperson and Cuyahoga County Democratic Chairperson Shontel Brown, who had observed Judge Sheehan’s campaign from the beginning and had a gut-level feeling that it would be successful, largely because she worked tirelessly and related so well to people of all cultures and socioeconomic status that she encountered at various engagements.
- Judge Donald C. Nugent, United States District Court of the Northern District of Ohio who noted that Judge Sheehan was a real trailblazer because she was the first person in her family to attend college let alone law school and after she became an attorney she became the first woman to be a law clerk in the firm that she worked for; afterwards she assumed other important positions in her firm that no woman had held before. He further complimented Judge Sheehan by saying that she has the courage, integrity, and character to make decisions even if they are unpopular.
- Former Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William D. Mason, who seemed like an old friend of the Sheehan family, expressed admiration for Judge Sheehan because she had been able to accomplish so much in both her legal career and as a candidate while making time for her family. He said that she was great in terms of organizational talents; along these lines, he recalled an instance wherein Judge Sheehan had worked as a scheduler on a political campaign and had everything so well coordinated that Mr. Mason wished that she was working for him instead of the candidate that she was working for.
- Miss Makayla Sheehan, the daughter of Judges Michelle and Brendan Sheehan, who seconded Mr. Mason about how her mother was always there for her family when she was needed. She said that her mom was a great role model as well as “a great lady who goes out of her way to help people.” On a more amusing note, she spoke of how she and her siblings were as well-behaved as they underwent a disciplinary process known as the “Sheehan Court” in which all principles of the U.S. Constitution were observed for the most part except perhaps the 4th and the 5th amendments. Not to fear, though, they were innocent until proven guilty. Miss Sheehan concluded her remarks by saying that she would say good luck to her mother but didn’t really believe that she would need it.
Just before Judge Brendan Sheehan administered the Oath of Administration to his wife, he talked about how they got to know each other and started to date while law students. Taking a more serious turn, he was very mindful and proud of his wife’s accomplishments in terms of breaking the glass ceiling on many matters involving the status of women and how hard she fought on behalf of her clients.
Perhaps the most telling observation of the day was that of Mr. Fisher as he recollected on why good judges play such an important role in our society. Mr. Fisher said that conscientious judges realize that behind each case was a story and behind each story there was a person who should be treated with fairness and respect. He went on to convey confidence that Judge Michelle Sheehan would certainly be included in their number.