Magistrates

 

McLaughlinChief Magistrate Kelly McLaughlin

Kelly McLaughlin was raised in Mogadore, Ohio, and graduated from Mogadore High School in 1980.  She attended college at The Ohio State University, graduating with honors with a bachelor of arts in political science in 1984.  She graduated from the Ohio State University College of Law in June of 1987, was admitted to the practice of law in November of that same year.

Magistrate McLaughlin was engaged in private practice for almost 24 years, with an emphasis on family, juvenile, and criminal law.  She served as a guardian ad litem for hundreds of children in the Domestic Relations and Juvenile Court systems.  She joined the Summit County Domestic Relations Court in September of 2011, and became a full time magistrate on March 18, 2013.  She was appointed as Chief Magistrate in January, 2017.

Each year, Magistrate McLaughlin acts as the Deputy Director of the Judicial Branch of Government at Buckeye Girls State, and intensive summer program for girls between their Junior and Senior years of high school.  In order to learn about the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship and the political process, the girls run for office and form their own government.

 

gui-webMagistrate Janice Gui

Family Law has become the focus of Magistrate Janice Gui’s professional life. But it wasn’t always so.  First she detoured into the field of mathematics.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in math at Barnard College in New York City. She then became a homemaker.  She married and had three children.  She stayed at home with the children for 11 years.

After her children were all in school Magistrate Gui embarked on her legal career by enrolling in night classes at the law school of the University of Akron.  She eventually became an editor of the Law Review and obtained her J.D. in 1978.

After she became licensed, Magistrate Gui worked at Legal Aid for 12 years.  She represented low-income people in many different arenas, but especially in the Domestic Relations Court.  She was a managing attorney for the family law unit.

In 1991 Magistrate Gui came to the Domestic Relations Court, first as a referee and then as a magistrate.  She hears all general docket matters assigned to magistrates– motions for temporary orders, post-judgment matter, and domestic violence cases.

In addition to her work at the court, Magistrate Gui likes to speak about family law at the local schools and other groups.  She also enjoys cooking, reading, traveling, and spending time with her four grandsons.  Italy is her favorite place to go (all that wonderful food, after all!)  She also loves to camp at the seashore.

 

20140321_110156Magistrate Sharon Dennis

Magistrate Sharon Hairston Dennis is a 1975 graduate of Buchtel High School. She attended Howard University in Washington, DC, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology.  While attending The University of Akron School of Law, Dennis interned  as a law clerk with   The University of   Akron’s  Legal Department, The University of Akron School of Law Appellate Review Office, and the City of Akron Law Department, working under the direction of The City Law Director, the late Judge Harold K Stubbs. Judge Stubbs later became one of Dennis’s most valuable mentors. Dennis also served as a law clerk for the late Judge Joseph Roulhac. She was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1987.

Immediately upon admission to the Supreme Court of Ohio, Dennis joined the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney.  She served five years in the Child Support Enforcement Agency.  Additionally, she maintained a private practice of law, focusing on civil litigation and arbitration and serving as a Domestic Relations Court guardian ad litem.   Tackling the  duty of liaison, she instituted bi-monthly  meetings to  resolve growing  discrepancies between  magistrates and prosecutors, and  also served as a Guardian  Ad Litem, conducting  home  visits  with  families  and  making resolutions for children in custody cases. Her efforts would eventually lead her to an appointment as Magistrate in 1992 by Judges Judith Nicely and Carol Dezso, becoming the very first full-time, African American Magistrate in the history of the Summit County Domestic Relations Court.

Dennis hears 700 cases annually, having heard over 10,000 since her appointment; involving custody, visitation, domestic violence, spousal and child support, property division, contempt, and paternity  proceedings.  She continues to serve as a presenter and mediator for the Court Alternative Dispute program, “Working Together”, which  provides  information to  parents  on  court  proceedings  and  emphasizes the  importance  of consistent communication between parents.

Dennis created and chaired the first Bench Bar conference, establishing a forum for attorneys and the judiciary to interface and resolve issues related to the operation and function of court policies and procedures.  She is a member of the Ohio Magistrate Association, a trustee member of the Ohio Women’s Bar Association, serves on the Brown Mackie College Advisory Board, and is a member of the Akron Barristers Association, where she has co-chaired welcome receptions for newly admitted minority students to assist in their transition to the Akron area and the UA School of Law.

She is an active member of the Akron Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.,  where she launched the Darfur Project in 2010, to create awareness and raise money for the construction of fresh-water wells for endangered Sudanese refugees, and has participated in a host of leadership and fundraising activities for the public service sorority.  Dennis also serves as a board member for the charitable arm of the sorority, The Minerva Fund of Akron.  She is a co-founder and board member of “A Gift Basket for Girls,” a non-profit organization providing educational and mentoring services for teenage mothers.  Additionally, she has volunteered with The Akron Bar Association “Street Law” program and continues to return to The University of Akron, School of Law to serve as an Alumni Ambassador for prospective and newly admitted law students.

An avid marathoner, she participates in a variety of races to benefit charitable causes.  A tireless advocate for the rights of women, she previously served on the board of the Battered Women’s Shelter and has participated in a variety of panels addressing the issue of domestic violence.  She is an adjunct professor at The University of Phoenix where she teaches Ethics and Business Law.

She has been married for over 28 years to Herman Dennis, has one son, Bradley Dennis, a 2012 Magna Cum Laude graduate of Kent State University, and three stepchildren: Chris Dennis, Dionne Eslick, and DeJuan Dennis.  Her parents, the late George Hairston and Josephine Holland Hairston Poole, instilled in her and her three brothers a thirst for knowledge.

 

 

CollinsMagistrate Stephan B. Collins

Magistrate Stephan Collins was born in Iowa and later came to Akron.  He is a graduate from Buchtel High School.  He served in the United States Coast Guard as a navigator.  Thereafter he attended the OhioStateUniversity where he received a Bachelor of Arts in History and then enrolled in the University of San Francisco Law School.  While attending USF he served as staff for the Admiralty Moot Court and an editor of the USF Maritime Law Journal.  Magistrate Collins completed his Juris Doctorate at the DrakeUniversityLawSchool in Des Moines, Iowa in 1997, where he also served as a research assistant on agriculture and the law.

Magistrate Collins brings to the Domestic Relations Court a rich and varied set of life experiences.  While living in Santa Barbara, California he served as a job coach for developmentally disabled adults; a volunteer mediator in domestic and civil cases; a policy research intern to the Santa Barbara County Supervisors; a judicial intern in the Federal District Court of Minnesota; and a real estate law instructor for the Ohio School of Real Estate Studies.  Magistrate Collins has also worked as a private practice attorney in Ohio with a focus on domestic relations practice and is a legal instructor at the Academy of Court Reporting in Akron.

Magistrate Collins joined the Summit County Domestic Relations Court as a judicial attorney in 2000, becoming a Magistrate in 2001.  His primary non-work interests are his family, WWII history and cooking.

 

KlecknerMagistrate Janet L. Kleckner

Magistrate Janet Kleckner’s professional life has been linked to domestic relations law for many years.  After graduating from CornellLawSchool in 1980 she worked for a legal aid office in Long Island, NY.  In 1983 her family moved to Ohio, where she joined the legal aid office that served Summit, Portage and MedinaCounties.  Shortly after her arrival there she became the managing attorney for the Medina office, where she handled a variety of cases, including domestic relations matters.  In 1991 she became a domestic relations Referee (later renamed Magistrate) for the Medina court.  Then in January 2001 she had the good fortune to come to Summit County Domestic Relations Court. 

In addition to working with families who have matters pending before the court, Magistrate Kleckner enjoys speaking to parent groups and other organizations that have an interest in family law.

Magistrate Kleckner is married and has three children.  Her favorite recreational activities include bicycling, reading, skiing and gardening.

 

StablerMagistrate Rhonda Stabler

Magistrate Rhonda Stabler came to the Domestic Relations Court on April 3, 2000.   Magistrate Stabler received an Associates of Criminal Justice Degree from the University of Akron in 1982, and was the recipient of several scholarships and academic awards.  She received a Bachelor of Political Science degree from the University of Akron in 1984, and her Juris Doctorate in 1987.  While attending the University of Akron, Magistrate Stabler served as a research assistant for Professor Jacques Beguin from Paris, France and for Congressman John F. Seiberling from Akron, Ohio and was also Vice Justice of the Phi Alpha Delta Legal Fraternity.

Magistrate  Stabler served as a legal intern for the City of Akron Department of Law from 1986, until 1988, and worked as an Assistant Director of Law in the Civil Division from 1988, until 1992.  Magistrate Stabler served as an Assistant City Prosecutor in Akron from 1992, until 1997, when she took over the duties as the Special Domestic Violence Prosecutor and created the Domestic Violence Unit in 1998, by applying for and receiving grant money from VAWA.   During her tenure in the Akron City Prosecutors Office she litigated numerous cases and worked closely with victims, victim advocates and the police department, and was the recipient of an Award of Appreciation from the Akron Crime Clinic, Inc.  for her distinguished service in the community.

Magistrate Stabler has served as the Secretary for the Summit County Domestic Violence Coalition since 2000.

 

HeimbaughMagistrate Rebecca DiDonato Heimbaugh

A life long resident of Akron, Ohio, Rebecca DiDonato Heimbaugh is a graduate of the Akron Public Schools.  Rebecca earned a Bachelor of Arts in Telecommunications and Journalism from Kent State University.  While working full-time in the private sector,  Rebecca attended and graduated from University of Akron School of Law.

With a keen interest for families, children and community and as a strong advocate for public education, Rebecca was elected to and served as a member of the Akron Board of Education from 2002-2005. She also served as a Trustee on the Ohio School Board Association for two years.

Rebecca has been with the Court since 2003.   She is a member of the Ohio Magistrates Association and Ohio Women’s Bar Association.  She is certified to practice in Federal Court as well as the Federal Court of Claims.  Rebecca is also a National Association of Parliamentarian certified parliamentarian, and a former basketball official.  She has appeared on Fox Network News, Lester Holt show regarding privacy rights for students. She has also been a guest on the Jon Stewart Show.

Rebecca has been and continues to be very active in her community and with a number of organizations.  She is an avid sports fan, particularly enjoying  football and baseball.

 

 

Magistrate Cheryl Wear

Cheryl Wear was born and raised in Cuyahoga Falls and has been a resident of West Akron for the past 18 years. She graduated from Western Reserve Academy (Hudson, Ohio) in 1982 where she was active in sports and drama.  Cheryl continued her education at Duke University, then transferred to the University of Akron where she earned a B.A. in Economics, a Masters in Economics, and a JD/MBA(Marketing). Cheryl was admitted to the Bar in Ohio in 1992, and to the Bar of the United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio, in 2009.

After law school, Cheryl spent two and a half years at the Ohio Eleventh District Court of Appeals as Judicial Attorney to Judge Donald R. Ford (now deceased). After her time with Judge Ford, she served for four years as a Trust Officer at Key Bank in the Employee Benefits Division where she drafted and administered institutional retirement plans governed by ERISA.  While at Key Bank, Cheryl received the Key Bank Achievement of Excellence Award.  Following her time at Key Bank, she served almost five years as Judicial Law Clerk to U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Marilyn Shea-Stonum in Akron.  Cheryl then took her bankruptcy experience to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Collections Enforcement Division, where she served for two years representing the State of Ohio in bankruptcy proceedings throughout the United States. Following her time with the Ohio Attorney General, Cheryl returned to the Ohio Eleventh District Court of Appeals to serve as Judicial Attorney to Judge Thomas R. Wright. Cheryl joined Judge Katarina Cook at the Akron Municipal Court in August, 2015, as her Judicial Attorney, and followed Judge Cook to the Summit County Domestic Relations Court in the same capacity in January, 2017.

Cheryl has been active in the community throughout her professional life. She was a member of the Cuyahoga Falls Rotary Club, served for seven years on the Chapel Hill Christian School Board of Education, and spent four years on the Alumni Advisory Board of Western Reserve Academy. Currently, Cheryl is a volunteer at St. Thomas Hospital’s Ignatia Hall. Cheryl is also active in her church, Christ Community Chapel where she has been involved in the music ministry and currently serves as a volunteer for the RESTORE Addiction Recovery Ministry.

Outside of work, Cheryl loves to sing and play the piano. In 1989, she toured throughout Europe for six months with the Continental Singers. She is married to Michael, also an attorney, and has two children in college. Cheryl is an avid fan of the Cleveland Indians and the University of Akron men’s basketball team.

 

Magistrate Maureen Foley

Bio coming soon

 

Magistrate Scot Stevenson

Bio coming soon

 

Magistrate Kimberly Oliver

Bio coming soon

 

Magistrate Diane Dougherty

Bio coming soon