Login | June 23, 2021

Summit Cty. DR Judge Steinhauer discusses her experience and goals

Legal News Reporter

Published: June 11, 2021

She’s held a variety of legal positions over the years, now Judge Susan (Susie) K. Steinhauer plans to utilize her diverse background to enhance programming and services at the Summit County Domestic Relations Court.
Judge Steinhauer took her seat on the domestic relations bench on April 26. She was appointed by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to replace Republican Judge Katarina Cook, who was elected in November 2020 to succeed retiring Administrative Judge John Quinn.
Judge Quinn, a Democrat, served more than 15 years on the Summit County Domestic Relations Court.
When Judge Cook, now administrative judge, was elected to his seat she still had over two years remaining on her six-year term. Judge Steinhauer, a Republican, will complete that unexpired term, which ends on Jan. 5, 2023.
“I was very excited to learn that I had been appointed,” said Judge Steinhauer, who plans to run for a full six-year term in 2022. “The domestic relations court sees people who are going through very difficult issues in their lives and it’s very satisfying to be able to play a role in helping them work through their difficulties so they can get closure.”
A native of Akron, Judge Steinhauer received her bachelor’s degree in business from Miami University in Ohio, where she majored in marketing and minored in management information systems.
After obtaining her juris doctorate from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1998, she returned to Akron, taking a position as an assistant Summit County prosecutor.
“I primarily handled child support, dependency, neglect and abuse cases,” said Judge Steinhauer, who is licensed in Ohio, Indiana and Florida.
In August 2001, she moved to the Summit County Common Pleas Court, where she initially served as a floating judicial attorney and later as a floating judicial attorney and a magistrate.
From 2008 to 2011, she was the chief legal officer for White Hat Management, a former Ohio charter school operator and early advocate for school choice in the state.
Brennan Manna Diamond member John Martin described Judge Steinhauer as a “bright and hard-working” legal professional.
“Judge Steinhauer was in-house counsel for my client and she and I have been co-counsel in a number of matters,” said Martin, who is a senior member of his firm and handles general business matters, mergers and acquisitions, real estate and financing transactions.
“She is excellent at research and analysis and is very diligent in all of her work. I think she will do an excellent job as judge and will be a valuable addition to the Summit County bench.”
Prior to her appointment as judge, she was working with her father, attorney John S. Steinhauer. They handled a variety of matters including contracts, ongoing business representation, preparation for litigation and mediation and legal research and analysis.
“Ever since I was a child I wanted to be a lawyer,” said Judge Steinhauer. “I am not sure how big a role my father played in my choice of career, but it was always something I had a desire to do.
“I really enjoy learning new things,” she said. “I like the gray areas of the law and the challenge of trying to figure out what statutes and case law are relevant and should be applied to various situations.”
Patrick Watts, an attorney in the Cleveland office of Zashin & Rich has worked with Judge Steinhauer in various capacities for close to 15 years.
“I first met the judge when she was an in-house attorney and I was the outside counsel for her employer,” said Watts, who focuses on labor and employment law.
“We’ve since been co-counsel on a number of legal matters,” he said. “I think she’ll make a great judge. She has the right temperament and demeanor. 
“She is calm and collected, has a great work ethic and understands people, which is especially important when it comes to highly personal domestic relations issues like divorce and child custody.”
A member of the Ohio Association of Domestic Relations Judges and the Ohio Judicial Conference’s Domestic Relations Law & Procedure, Legislative and Court Technology committees, Judge Steinhauer is active in the BK Ohio Chapter of P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization), a nonprofit organization, which seeks to empower women through educational and other efforts.
While she is still familiarizing herself with the procedures and operations of the Domestic Relations Court, Judge Steinhauer said one of her goals is to find ways to add value to the court’s existing online resources for residents.
“Judge Cook and Judge Quinn have done a tremendous job in creating programming for those who come before the court, dealing with COVID and utilizing technology,” she said. “I would like to see if there is a way to streamline some of the processes and perhaps make them more user-friendly.
“Judge Cook has been tremendously helpful to me and I appreciate her mentorship,” said Judge Steinhauer. “Her Family Recovery Court has helped a lot of people. I am interested in exploring whether a valor court could be useful on the domestic relations side.
“As time goes on, I will discuss that idea as well as come up with others. I am looking forward to assisting in any manner I can.”