First female judge on Fourth District Court of Appeals continues breaking barriers in law, life
By Kelsey Givens
Time and time again throughout her career, Judge Marie Hoover ’94 has shown there isn’t much she can’t conquer. From being the first woman elected to the Fourth District Court of Appeals, to working to find ways to improve the effectiveness of the legal system, to dominating national and international martial arts competitions, when Hoover sets her mind to something, she finds a way to get it done.
Hoover was first elected to her seat on the court in November of 2012. In January of 2018, she was selected by her colleagues to serve as both the presiding and administrative judge for 2018 for the Fourth District, which is comprised of 14 counties in southeastern Ohio. She has previously served as presiding judge and as administrative judge, separately, during her tenure on the court.
During her third year in law school, Hoover’s passion for public service began when she utilized her legal internship license to work with a contract attorney for the Ohio Public Defender’s Office in Pike County, Ohio. “I wanted to keep helping people who couldn’t help themselves,” she explained.
Part of what Hoover enjoys most about her work now is the time it affords her to deeply analyze each case to find the best solution to the problem in front of her. While she said it can be isolating—since she doesn’t interact with clients every day like she did in private practice—it still allows her to use her passion for legal writing and research to really make a difference in the world.
“As a lawyer, it’s rewarding when you finish a case and your client starts crying or hugging you with relief or happiness. When you see a client years later and his or her life is so much better because of the work you did—that is the true reward.” Hoover said. “As a judge, the reward is different—it is not as immediate. You have to know that the precedent value of the case in front of you is immense. The most rewarding part about this job is the impact you can make on a greater number of people well into the future.”
In addition to her day-to-day duties on the appellate court, Hoover also participates in a number of committees with the Ohio Judicial Conference. As presiding judge, she is on the Executive Committee of the Ohio Appellate Judges Association. She has also participated in a focus group for the Ohio Supreme Court that looked at how courts, like the one she serves on, can be more effective and better meet the needs of the public. “That [work] is important to me because a lot of people, understandably, are disheartened by the legal profession, lawyers, and the system,” she said. “We are trying to figure out how to make things more effective and to restore confidence in our legal system.”
When Hoover isn’t listening to oral arguments or researching legal theory, she enjoys running marathons and practicing yoga and the martial arts. She holds a third-degree black belt and has won competitions in the U.S. and internationally. Hoover said it’s important for those involved in the legal profession to do things they enjoy to help clear their mind and de-stress outside of work so they can operate at their best when helping clients and handling cases.
“It’s absolutely necessary to find an outlet, otherwise the anxiety and the worry from the profession will [eat you alive]. You have to find something you enjoy and that you can clear your mind with,” she said.
To those about to enter the profession, Hoover had this piece of advice: Always be true to yourself and find your passion. “Don’t be so limited on what you think you can do with your law degree. There are a lot of different things you can do in the legal profession that will fit your personality; you don’t have to change your core personality to try to fit in somewhere. You will be a more effective lawyer if you are working with something you are passionate about and when you are yourself, when you are authentic.”