Login | June 20, 2024

Retired Judge Patricia Cosgrove receives St. Thomas More Award

Retired Summit County Court of Common Pleas Judge Patricia A. Cosgrove received the St. Thomas More Award on May 3 at St. Bernard Catholic Church during Red Mass. She is pictured here being escorted down the aisle by her stepson Michael Fuchs. (Photo courtesy of the Akron Bar Association).

Legal News Reporter

Published: May 17, 2024

As a young girl growing up in Akron, Patricia A. Cosgrove knew she wanted to be a lawyer and her passion for the law only increased with age.
“It seemed to me that the law provided a wonderful opportunity to help people and change lives,” she said.
“When I was a student at St. Mary High School, the nun asked us what we wanted to do when we graduated,” she said. “I was the only one who said I wanted to be a lawyer, which was not considered a traditional profession for women at that time.
“I was told it would not be an easy goal and that made me even more determined,” said Cosgrove.
Decades later, she has not only fulfilled her dream of becoming a lawyer, but she’s enjoyed a distinguished career as a prosecutor, common pleas court and visiting judge.
Former Summit County Prosecutor Lynn Slaby, who hired Cosgrove as a senior prosecuting attorney after he was elected, said she “brought justice” to the criminal justice system.
“I had the good fortune to work with Patricia at the Akron law department, prior to hiring her,” said Slaby, a retired 9th District Court of Appeals judge, who serves as a commissioner for the Casino Control Commission.
“Whether working for the city or the county, Patricia was always thorough and well prepared. She was tough, but fair,” said Slaby, adding she never backed away from prosecuting challenging cases.
Plaintiff personal injury attorney Paul Perantinides describes Cosgrove as “an absolute rock star!”
Perantinides tried a number of cases in front of Cosgrove.
“Judge Cosgrove is of the highest character and possesses the rare ability to understand the impact that her decisions have on those who appear before her in court,” said Perantinides, managing partner of Perantinides & Nolan Co.
“She has consistently demonstrated the courage, integrity and willingness to do what the law requires,” Perantinides said. “She has never shied away from hard work or tried to avoid cases that had the potential to make her unpopular with voters.”
Cosgrove has also given back to the legal profession and the community, serving on nonprofit boards and bar association committees, among other things.
Her work has earned her a number of accolades and honors, but she said the news that she’d been chosen as the 2024 recipient of the St. Thomas More Award caught her off guard.
“I was completely flabbergasted,” said Cosgrove. “There are so many people that are deserving of this award that I certainly was not expecting it.”
Presented by the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland during Red Mass as part of the Akron Bar Association’s celebration of Law Week, the award pays tribute to St. Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers. It goes to a legal professional, who has demonstrated outstanding personal integrity, professional excellence and community service.
Cosgrove received the award on May 3 at St. Bernard Catholic Church during Red Mass.
While she was surprised when she learned of the honor, those who have worked with her were not.
Summit County Court of Common Pleas Administrative Judge Alison McCarty said Cosgrove is the “epitome of what a lawyer and judge should be,” adding she is “most deserving” of the award.
The two worked together in the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office and were later colleagues on the common pleas bench.
“I consider her a mentor and a friend,” said Judge McCarty. “Judge Cosgrove is of the highest moral character and her integrity is without question. She has an unparalleled work ethic, even in retirement!”
J. Dean Carro, professor emeritus at The University of Akron School of Law, said Cosgrove is the definition of what everyone would want a judge to be.
“Judge Cosgrove is compassionate, conscientious, intelligent, hardworking, independent and ethical,” said Carro.
“She is well deserving of the St. Thomas More Award,” said Carro, a former recipient of the accolade.
“As a visiting judge, the Ohio Supreme Court has assigned her a lot of cases involving corruption charges against public officials,” said Carro. “These are very difficult cases and I think that says something about her.”
Perantinides, last year’s St. Thomas More Award recipient, went further. “I think Patricia is more deserving of this award than I ever was.”
Cosgrove earned her bachelor’s degree and juris doctor from The University of Akron in 1974 and 1978 respectively.
From 1972 to 1975, she worked as a deputy sheriff in the civil division of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office to save money for law school.
While at Akron Law she was a law clerk at the 9th District Court of Appeals.
She started a solo practice in 1978, the same year she joined the Akron Law Department as an assistant law director.
She was assigned to the criminal division and prosecuted cases ranging from DUIs and traffic offenses to vehicular homicide and assault.
In 1981, she became a senior prosecuting attorney in the criminal division of the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office, and in 1990 she was promoted to chief counsel in the civil division.
She left the office after being appointed to the common pleas court in 1993.
Cosgrove was elected to three full terms thereafter, stepping down at the end of August 2011 to care for her husband, the late Ronald Fuchs, a former detective and chief of the Franklin Township Police Department.
“It was an honor and a privilege to serve,” said Cosgrove.
She has continued to be a visiting judge at common pleas and municipal courts around the state.
While on the common pleas bench, Cosgrove presided over more than 10,000 cases and was one of the first reentry court program judges, which she said was very gratifying.
“It gave me a different perspective because I watched many people who had been in and out of prison for years enter this program and turn their lives around,” said Cosgrove.
She also co-founded the mediation program.
“I was the computer judge,” she said. “When I came to the court, we were using typewriters and I worked to get a technology grant so we could computerize our operations.”
Retired 9th District Court of Appeals Judge Lynne Callahan worked with Cosgrove in the county prosecutor’s office and later served with her on the common pleas bench.
“Pat was always the voice of reason,” said Callahan. “She was and still is a great trial judge. She always stayed up to date on the constantly changing law, ran an organized court, was willing to put her foot down when necessary and was the epitome of grace and professionalism.
“Pat would have been just as successful on the appellate bench or on the Ohio Supreme Court.
Cosgrove also served on the common pleas court with retired 9th District Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Teodosio.
“As a criminal defense attorney, Pat was the prosecutor on many of my cases,” said Teodosio. “She was a very skilled trial lawyer and a fair prosecutor.
“Later, as colleagues on the bench, I always respected her decisions; they were thoughtful and sound. In fact, I’ve often told her that she is one of my favorite judges.
“She is most deserving of the St. Thomas More Award. In fact, the description of the award fits her to a T.”
Cosgrove is a member of the Akron Bar Association Criminal Law Section and previously sat on the board of trustees.
She is also a member of the Akron Bar Foundation and the Ohio Judicial Conference, where she was a lecturer, and is a previous vice president and guest lecturer and current member of the Ohio Common Pleas Judges Association.
Cosgrove is a former president of the Charles F. Scanlon and Judge Samuel H. Bell American Inn of Court.
In addition, she is a past president of the Victim Assistance board and a former executive board member of the YWCA, where she was given a service award.
Her other accolades include the Akron Bar Association Liberty Bell Award and Akron Law’s Outstanding Alumni Award.
As for the future, Cosgrove said she plans to continue to serve as a visiting judge and spend time with her family.
“I also have a rose garden, which I enjoy working in,” said Cosgrove.