Youngstown's New Bankruptcy Judge, Kay Woods '81,
Takes Oath of Office
Judge Kay Woods '81 was formally sworn in Monday, August 16 during a ceremony held at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, housed in the Judge Nathaniel R. Jones Federal Building in downtown Youngstown. Family members, friends and attorneys representing some of the region's largest law firms were among the 100 or so people that crowded the courtroom to welcome Judge Woods to the bench.
"This is a great day for our court," proclaimed Judge Randolph Baxter, chief bankruptcy judge for the Northern District of Ohio. "We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our fellow judges," he added, applauding the decision made by the members of Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, who appointed Judge Woods to the position in March. A merit selection panel formed by the court recommended Woods for the post late last year.
After brief remarks by friends and well-wishers, Judge Baxter administered the oath of office to Judge Woods. Then Judge Woods' son, Michael Woods-DeWitt, and mother, Miriam Schwaberow, presented the judge with the robe she will wear while presiding over the Youngstown bench.
"It's been a long time getting here," Judge Woods said, as she recounted with humor her first day on the job July 8. That morning, she opted to take the slow-moving private elevator reserved for judges up to her third-floor offices. The elevator, she related, became stuck on the second floor, and she remained trapped inside for more than an hour as firefighters and court personnel worked to free her. "It's a humble reminder there are things that go wrong that even judges can't control," Judge Woods laughed.
Judge Woods said she takes her new obligations extremely seriously, and the job of a bankruptcy judge is an "awesome task." She took time to thank her family and friends, and voiced appreciation for retired Judge William T. Bodoh '64, who preceded her on the Youngstown bench.
Judge Woods started her legal career at Jones Day in Cleveland before accepting a job as a counsel for LTV Steel. While at LTV, she worked on that company's two complex bankruptcy cases.
As for any changes she has planned for the Youngstown court, Judge Woods said it's far too early to say. "I think change should come through evolution, not revolution," she remarked. However, Judge Woods conceded taking over the Youngstown bench is not going to be easy.
"There's a lot to do," she emphasized, noting much of the backlog of cases transferred out of Youngstown when former Judge Bodoh retired in January have been returned to that court. "So far, everything is running smoothly," she said.
By Dan O'Brien, reprinted with permission by The Business Journal