Cocroft ’00 Begins Judgeship in Franklin County
Kim Cocroft ’00 is two months into her judgeship with the Franklin County, Ohio, Court of Common Pleas. It’s a position that Cocroft said she was unsure she would ever have the opportunity to hold.
“I didn’t know or believe I would be able to attain this position,” she said.
Cocroft applied to be a judge because she knew she was capable of fulfilling the position. “Never self exclude,” she said. “Let someone else tell you you’re not qualified.”
After thoughtful consideration and encouragement from colleagues, she applied for the position when Judge John Connor and Judge Eric Brown vacated the court. There were 14 applicants, eight of whom were interviewed and later narrowed down to six who were recommended to the governor. In the end two were chosen, Cocroft along with Laurel Beatty who both started their judgeships in early April.
Cocroft, a native of Columbus, received her bachelor’s, master’s, and law degrees from The Ohio State University. She was the Deputy Legal Counsel for the Office of the Governor before joining the Common Pleas Court. She has practiced in various areas in law, including in private firm practice, the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, and as a Law Clerk for Justice Alice Resnick of the Supreme Court of Ohio.
“Everything I have done has helped me to do my job better,” she said. “Knowing how people operate in different sectors and interpreting their decisions and actions plays a role in how I operate as a judge.”
Cocroft said that the transition to become a judge has been a smooth one. She normally hears criminal and civil cases within the court. “There’s always the nervousness of the unknown, but things have gone wonderfully well,” she said.
Within the first few weeks of becoming a judge, Cocroft had the unusual occurrence of presiding over three trials in three consecutive weeks. A fellow judge told her that some judges do not get three trials in three years, let alone three in three weeks.
Although she has had three consecutive trials, Cocroft commented that what surprised her most about her new job was the pace.
“I was expecting the pace to be a little faster. I’m surprised by how manageable it is,” she said. “But I’m only a month in, so next year I may have a different opinion.”
The most rewarding part of her new job, Cocroft said, is the impact she is able to have on defendants’ lives when they come before her bench.
“I talk to defendants in criminal cases. I talk to them about their decisions and life-long ramifications,” she said. “Some don’t listen, but some defendants have listened and that will make a difference in the long run.”
Cocroft said that she is grateful for her new opportunity.
“Expect the unexpected,” she said. “Don’t be deterred by your own finite mind. Go for whatever it is that you aspire to do or you think to aspire to do.”