Kasich appoints Columbus judge to Ohio high court

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Republican Gov. John Kasich appointed appellate judge Judith French to the Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday.

French has served on the 10th District Court of Appeals in Columbus since 2004. Before that, she served as chief legal counsel to Gov. Bob Taft and chief counsel and assistant attorney general under Attorney General Betty Montgomery.

Kasich named French as his pick to fill the two years remaining on the term of Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, who announced her retirement this spring. French would have to run in 2014 to remain on the court.

She will be one of three new faces after two incumbent justices -- Democrat Yvette McGee Brown and Republican Robert Cupp -- lost their November re-election bids. Neither McGee Brown nor Cupp was among the 13 judges and lawyers who applied to fill Lundberg Stratton's opening.

The retiring justice said in May that she had decided to "pursue a different course" helping disabled veterans caught up in the criminal justice system.

Stratton, 59, plans to take on a state and national role directing troubled veterans to benefits available through the Department of Veterans Affairs, perhaps as a consultant. Since Stratton created a statewide advisory committee on mental health issues in the state, Ohio has gone from having two mental health courts to 34 such courts and 144 specialized dockets.

She said the intensive workload and ethical restrictions of being a justice kept her from working on social causes she is passionate about.

Stratton, a Republican, spent 16 years on the high court.

French will serve a term scheduled to end Jan. 1, 2015. She received her bachelor's, master's and law degrees from The Ohio State University.

In picking French, Kasich passed by Ohio State Bar Association president Patrick Fischer, a Cincinnati appellate judge, and Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Pat DeWine, the son of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.