Login | June 20, 2024

Meet 7th District Court of Appeals Judge Katelyn Dickey

Legal News Reporter

Published: May 16, 2024

She served as a magistrate and a judge in the lower courts, now Judge Katelyn Dickey has taken the bench at the 7th District Court of Appeals.
“I am very excited and honored by this opportunity,” said Judge Dickey, who started on April 10. “I have a unique background with experience in several areas of the law. I am humbled and truly honored to take the oath to uphold the laws as written to best serve the citizens of the 7th District.”
Judge Dickey fills the vacancy created by former Judge David D’Apolito, a Democrat, who resigned at the end of 2023 with more than a year remaining on his term.
At the time that D’Apolito stepped down, Judge Dickey was already running for a full term on the 7th District bench, which begins in February 2025.
She was appointed to fill D’Apolito’s seat by Gov. Mike DeWine after winning the Republican primary in March and is unopposed in the general election.
Prior to hearing cases at the appellate court on April 10, Judge Dickey was administered the oath of office by 7th District Court of Appeals Presiding and Administrative Judge Carol Ann Robb.
“My colleagues and I are pleased that Judge Dickey is now serving with us on the 7th District Court of Appeals,” said Judge Robb.
“Judge Dickey brings to the bench trial court experience in the common pleas court as well as in the municipal court,” said Judge Robb. “We are looking forward to working with her as we continue to serve the people of our district.”
In an earlier interview with the Akron Legal News, D’Apolito, who left the court to take a position as Canfield city manager, said Judge Dickey was “perfect for the court of appeals,” adding that “she has the right demeanor” and “enjoys the technical aspects of the law.”
Born in Salem, Ohio, Judge Dickey grew up in Columbiana County.
She obtained her bachelor’s degree in education from Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, where she received a four-year athletic scholarship to play on the women’s basketball team.
It wasn’t until the final year of her undergraduate studies that she decided to go to law school.
“I attended a presentation by a school lawyer who talked about representing school boards, students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), teachers’ rights and more,” said Judge Dickey. “I thought it sounded very interesting so I immediately looked into law schools and started studying for the Law School Admission Test to pursue this interest.
“I decided to attend The University of Akron School of Law,” she said. “After I started law school, I learned about so many different areas of the law and ways that you can use a law degree.
“At that time, my interest in school law most likely meant being employed at a large firm located in a big city and I knew I wanted to return to the largely rural county of Columbiana, where I grew up,” said Judge Dickey.
While at Akron Law, Judge Dickey also interned at the Columbiana County Common Pleas Court where she spent her time researching areas of the law and various civil and criminal cases, watching suppression hearings and jury trials and learning about the inner-workings of the court.
“While being immersed in county government, I fell in love with public service,” said Judge Dickey. “It was so inspiring to help the government system operate smoothly and in a way that gave the public faith, trust and respect in the system.”
Upon earning her juris doctor from Akron Law in 2012, she started as a staff attorney at the Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.
Judge Dickey was also an adjunct professor at Kent State University and taught business law at the school’s Salem campus for several semesters.
In 2018, she was appointed as a magistrate in the domestic relations division of the Columbiana County Common Pleas Court and the following year, she was hired as an assistant prosecuting attorney for the Columbiana County Prosecutor’s Office.
It was while serving as an assistant prosecutor that she ran and was elected as a judge in the Columbiana County Municipal Court.
She took the bench at the start of 2020 shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Judge Dickey found herself having to navigate many newfound challenges.
“We were creative and adaptive by using the Ohio Supreme Court guidelines to ensure that justice was still served during this unprecedented time,” Judge Dickey said.
In April of 2023, Judge Dickey announced her campaign for the 7th District Court of Appeals.
“At this time there was a seat up for election and two seats were going to open in 2026 and I felt like this was the best opportunity for me to serve on the court of appeals.
“Judge D’Apolito is a well-respected good man and my decision to run was nothing personal against him, rather I saw it as an opportunity and I believed in myself and trusted in God’s timing,” said Judge Dickey.
After winning approximately 69% of the votes throughout the eight counties in the March primary election, Judge Dickey was appointed by the governor to fill D’Apolito’s seat.
She is now the only candidate seeking a full term on the 7th District bench whose name appears on the November ballot.
“While I am very excited and honored to be at the appellate court, leaving the municipal court was extremely bittersweet,” said Judge Dickey. “I loved serving on the court because I enjoyed the cases and the people. I felt like I was really having a positive impact on people’s lives and truly loved the job.
“By its nature, a municipal court has a high turnover docket,” she said. “We had a very busy court, handling usually between 40 to 50 cases a day, including arraignments. It was a very fast-paced environment.
“Now I have fewer cases and a lot more time to do research, read, review and contemplate each case because the nature of the work is very different at the appellate level,” Judge Dickey said.
One of her main goals as a 7th District judge is to be more accessible to residents living in the eight counties that the court serves.
“I plan to attend events and talk to people about how the judicial system works, especially the court of appeals,” said Judge Dickey. “I think a lot of people are unsure about our function and it’s important to educate the public to foster an understanding and respect for our judicial system.”
Judge Dickey is a member of the Columbiana County, Mahoning County and Ohio State bar associations, the Columbiana County Township Association, the Columbiana County Farm Bureau, the Mahoning Valley Republican Women’s Club, the Ohio Judicial Conference, the Federalist Society and the National Rifle Association.
In terms of her judicial philosophy, Judge Dickey describes herself as a Constitutionalist.
“As judges we don’t write or make the laws, rather we must follow the laws as written and that’s what I’ve taken an oath to do,” said Judge Dickey. “Judges should not legislate from the bench.
“I look forward to doing the job that so many people in the eight counties entrusted me to do.”