Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

‘Grateful’ O’Donnell Memorialized with Court Portrait

For months, the coronavirus pandemic has kept people from gathering inside the Ohio Supreme Court. This week, though, members of the Court and guests safely convened to honor a former justice.

Former Justice Terrence O’Donnell became the latest Supreme Court jurist to be memorialized with a portrait during an unveiling in the main courtroom of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor called her former colleague “an incredible force on the Court for 15 years.”

Former Justice O’Donnell, who didn’t attend out of caution due to COVID-19, was represented by three of his adult children and three of his grandchildren, all of whom live in the Columbus area. The man who served the state’s court of last resort from 2003 to 2018 shared his thoughts by video from his native Cleveland.

“I thank everyone in Ohio for the privilege I had to serve on the Ohio Supreme Court. I’ve got many treasured memories,” former Justice O’Donnell said.

Along with Chief Justice O’Connor, another previous colleague also spoke to honor the Court’s 149th justice – former justice and current Ohio House Speaker Robert Cupp.

“When he was not immersed in serious contemplation, or writing an opinion or dissent, he was friendly, outgoing, and jovial,” Speaker Cupp said, adding that he was particularly appreciative of former Justice O’Donnell’s guidance when joining the state’s high court after serving 15 years as a state senator.

Mentorship was the hallmark of O’Donnell’s time at the Supreme Court. The former school teacher helped create the state’s Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program in 2006, an initiative linking experienced attorneys with new lawyers that is nationally recognized.

“Those are things that’s remarkable to me and speak to who he was a professional,” said Nora O’Donnell, one of his daughters.

She, like her siblings, Terrence Jr. and Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Colleen O’Donnell, marveled at the lifelike rendering of their father. Artist Leslie Adams has painted portraits of other former justices, including Chief Justice Thomas Moyer and Justices Robert Duncan and Francis Sweeney.

“I feel like he’s just about to jump off the page. [It’s] like he’s almost here in the room,” said Judge O’Donnell. “He could be all business and all fun at the same time, and it's a really phenomenal way to capture that.”

“It’s got the personal touches that people who know my dad know: the green piping on the robe, just how he’s holding his hand, how he’s holding the law book,” added Terrence Jr.

In all, the former justice spent 38 years on the trial court and appellate benches.