Judge Jill Leatherman with Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Shaw who swore her in on Wednesday. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Judge Jill Leatherman with Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Shaw who swore her in on Wednesday. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – Van Wert Municipal Court Judge Jill Worthington Leatherman was sworn in to her second term as Municipal Court Judge by Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Shaw on Wednesday at the local court.

Leatherman was originally appointed by (then) Governor Ted Strickland to fill the uncontested seat of the local court. Then, in the spring of 2011, she won a contested primary and assumed her first (six year) term. She is currently beginning her second uncontested full term.

Leatherman graduated from Ohio State University magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in psychology. She next attended Ohio Northern Law School Pettit School of Law where she graduated in May of 2002.

After passing her bar exam, Leatherman worked in the general law office of Steven Diller. In September of 2003, she was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Van Wert City Law Director. She was then elected to a four-year-term of that position.

In January of 2007 she began working as a senior claims attendant at Central Mutual where she worked until she assumed the judge position.

Leatherman, a 1989 graduate of Van Wert High School, remembers the day as a child when she read about a murder trial going on at the courthouse.

“It said that the proceedings of the trial were open to the public,” said Leatherman. “My mom told me to attend the trial if I wanted. The next day I rode my 10-speed bike uptown to watch the trial. That was inspirational for me to start thinking about going into law.”

These days, Leatherman said that she loves going to work with the hope every morning of being able to help someone get on the road to a better life.

“Here at Municipal Court I see someone on the worst day of their life,” said Leatherman. “If somehow we can get them into rehabilitation correction and they end up being better off because of it, it is what this job is all about.”

Leatherman is engaged to Neil Straley and has two children, a son, Zach, who lives in Cincinnati, and Lauren, a daughter, who is majoring in forensic psychology at OSU grad school.

“I love this; I love coming here every day with the hope of helping someone,” said Leatherman. “I love it when I meet people who were in court who have rehabilitated their lives and are on a good path again. That is ultimately what makes me feel the best.”