Judge Lee Sinclair | In my own words

As a young child, I loved to visit the Stark County Courthouse. So started my fascination with the law and with the judiciary. By the time I entered law school, there was one ultimate goal — to be a judge.

Why do you do what you do?

As a young child, I loved to visit the Stark County Courthouse. So started my fascination with the law and with the judiciary. By the time I entered law school, there was one ultimate goal — to be a judge. Fast forward 20 years later. Practicing law in the town where I grew up was a rewarding experience and the job security and financial rewards were great.

Then I was offered an appointment to the Stark County Common Pleas Court. Worried phone calls immediately came from my colleagues — taking the job would mean a drastic cut in pay and no job security. It took me about two seconds to consider these concerns. I decided to follow my dreams. I have never looked back, not once. The satisfaction of being a judge, of serving the community so overshadows the money and security that I left behind. For almost 20 years, I have started each workday the same way. I say a little mantra to myself,“Give me the strength to do what is right because it is right; even though what is right might not be as popular or the easiest decision to make.”

I never forget these words. So why do I do what I do? My answer is, why would I want to do anything else? Everyone should be fortunate enough to do what he loves each and every day.

What’s on your mind?

This is not the America we were 50 years ago. It’s a sad but true statement. We have sat back passively and allowed at least two generations to grow up in an environment of no respect, no work ethic, a disdain for authority, and with no concept of right and wrong. Instead of striving for excellence, many young people are satisfied with the pursuit of mediocrity. I am sick and tired of seeing young adults in my courtroom whose only occupation and ambition is drinking beer, smoking dope, playing video games and partying. There is no sense of duty or community. It is just me,me, me. How did we go so wrong? Virtually every young adult I put in prison has not a soul in court for support. Most have had no contact with their fathers for most of their lives. Mothers do often try, but more and more they too have been dysfunctional parents more concerned about drugging, drinking and partying than about their own kids. Shame on these parents. The young person never had a chance as the parents have never been there. Not at 19, not at 9, not at 2 years of age. This total lack of caring and parenting is at a crisis level. Primary blame goes to these worthless examples of role models for their own kids. But we, as a community, need to accept our share of the blame. We need to wake up and demand that all parents do their job — no excuses. If we want to keep this country on top, then we better take a long look at the lack of effective parenting. We better wake up and we better do it soon.


WHO: Judge Lee Sinclair, Stark County Common Pleas Court. Married to Janet Sinclair.

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree, Kent State University; doctoral degree, University of Akron School of Law (named Outstanding Law Student and also editor of the Akron Law Review).

BOARDS: Chairman, Ohio Judicial College board of trustees; Kent State University, Distinguished Alumni Award; University of Akron School of Law Judicial Hall of Fame; Plain Township Alumni Association Hall of Distinction; Stark County Master Gardener’s Association; chairman of the Canton District YMCA; Paul Harris Fellow Award by Rotary International; Red Triangle Award by the YMCA.

IN ADDITION: Prior to being a judge, he was a partner with Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs; faculty, University of Nevada; National Judicial College; faculty, The Ohio Judicial College special project editor,West Publishing Co., “Ohio Jury Instructions” (four volumes); author, “Presiding Over a Capital Case” as well as about 25 other textbooks and scholarly articles on legal and judicial topics.