Login | October 28, 2021

Judge Molly Johnson appointed to Commission on Professionalism

Legal News Reporter

Published: September 16, 2021

Since taking the bench in January 2019, Mahoning County Court Judge Molly Johnson has been asked to serve on the Ohio Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Language Services and on the advisory board of the Ohio Notary Commission.
Now Judge Johnson has been appointed to a three-year term on the Ohio Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.
The 15-member commission is charged with monitoring and coordinating the efforts and activities of attorneys, judges and legal organizations to ensure they adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards.
“I am honored to join the commission, which through its efforts helps to promote confidence in the legal profession,” said Judge Johnson, who sits on the bench in Mahoning County Court # 5 in Canfield. “The commission encourages lawyers to treat one another with respect, while still doing their utmost to advocate for their clients.
“I will attend my first meeting in September and I am looking forward to contributing.”
Judge Johnson is one of five judicial members on the Ohio Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. She was nominated by Ohio Supreme Court Justice R. Patrick DeWine.
“I have gotten to know Judge Johnson since she took the bench and I believe she has the energy, inclination and desire to help make sure that all Oho lawyers adhere to the highest professional standards,” said Justice DeWine. 
“It’s also important to have representatives from across the state and Judge Johnson's appointment ensures that the Mahoning Valley will have a voice on the Commission.” 
Raised in Canfield, Ohio, Judge Johnson is from a long line of legal professionals, who have made a point of carrying on the tradition of public service begun by her great, great grandfather Nils P. Johnson, who was a senator in Ohio in the 1920s.
The granddaughter of 7th District Court of Appeals Judge Nils P. Johnson Sr., Judge Johnson initially planned to work for the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). But after she completed her bachelor’s degree in communication and Spanish at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, she was offered a job in the oil and gas industry.
She said her work involved a lot of contract issues, which eventually led her to attend law school.
After graduating from The University of Akron School of Law in 2011, Judge Johnson began her legal career at her family law firm, Johnson & Johnson in Canfield, where she continues to practice on a part-time basis.
A member of The Mahoning County Bar Association and a two-time president of The Mahoning County Bar Association Foundation, Judge Johnson is on the board of trustees of the YMCA of Youngstown and has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Akron Law, teaching an advanced elective seminar.
Now close to halfway into her six-year term as a county court judge, she said she “thoroughly enjoys” serving on the bench, but wants to make a positive impact beyond the courtroom.
One way she’s trying to do so is through her service on the Ohio Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Language Services. Judge Johnson took her seat on the committee on Jan. 1, 2020 and will serve until at least Dec. 31, 2022.
“As a county court judge, I often encounter defendants who do not speak English,” said Judge Johnson. “I am a fluent Spanish speaker and I lived in Central and South America for about a year while I was in college so I understand what it is like to not speak the majority’s language. It can create a feeling of powerlessness, which is often amplified by the stress of having to appear in court.
“It feels amazing to be able to assist native Spanish speakers in court, but Spanish is only one language. For non-English or Spanish speakers the court utilizes a phone interpreter service that covers 240 languages-- some of them really obscure,” said Judge Johnson.
“Our language services committee has been working to incorporate more video technology into the courtroom to assist people with hearing and verbal disabilities. I am happy to say that we now have access to this video service via our phone interpreter service LanguageLine Solutions.”
Most recently, she said the committee has been working on creating bench cards for judges across the state to provide them with instructions on how to properly facilitate the use of interpreters for all languages in court, including American Sign Language.
In addition to her work on the language services advisory committee, Judge Johnson was appointed by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose in July 2020 to serve on the advisory board of the Ohio Notary Commission.
To qualify for a board position an individual must be a licensed attorney and an active notary public in Ohio.
“The Notary Advisory Board reviews and makes suggestions for changes to the language in Ohio Revised Code Chapter 147 as well as the notary administrative code,” said Judge Johnson. “The board assists the Secretary of State’s Office with policies and procedures that provide clarity to applicants and individuals seeking notarization.
“In addition, the board is responsible for investigating notaries public following the submission of a complaint to the Secretary of State’s Office regarding a potential violation of notary laws.”
In an email, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose described Judge Johnson as “an incredible asset to the Ohio Notary Commission,” adding “Molly’s civic engagement and passion for public service are seemingly boundless and we are all fortunate to have her working tirelessly on behalf of Ohioans.
“She is and will remain an effective advocate for the people of her hometown and for the Mahoning Valley for many years to come,” said LaRose.
While she is still familiarizing herself with the Ohio Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism’s functions and programming, Judge Johnson said she is looking forward to becoming involved in its Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program.
“The 70-hour program pairs new graduates with a local lawyer, who will discuss issues ranging from ethics and professionalism to deadlines and stress management, things that you don’t necessarily get in law school,” said Judge Johnson. “After I graduated law school, I signed up for the mentor program and it was a great way to get my feet wet in the practice of law.
“I got to know my mentor and the way that he practiced law. I was given tips on de-stressing, how to handle conflicts, ethical rules, how the local bar worked and other situations,” she said. “I benefited tremendously and I feel privileged to be given a chance to contribute to this program, which is so important for new lawyers.”