Achieving Justice Series - Judge Cynthia Westcott Rice
This "Achieving Justice" interview is conducted by Judge Jennifer Brunner, currently a judge of Ohio's Tenth District Court of Appeals. Judge Brunner is a candidate for the Ohio Supreme Court in 2020. In her tenth interview of this series, she interviews Eleventh District Court of Appeals Judge Cynthia Rice, who is running for reelection. The court is located in Warren, Ohio.
Judge Cynthia Westcott Rice was elected to the Eleventh District Court of Appeals in November 2002 and began her first term in 2003. The court reviews decisions of the trial courts in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Portage, and Trumbull Counties. She was re-elected to the court in November 2008 after running unopposed. She was elected by the other judges on the court to serve as the court’s Presiding and Administrative Judge in 2007. Judge Rice has also been appointed by former Chief Justice Moyer to serve as a visiting judge on the Supreme Court of Ohio. She has also served as visiting judge in the Second, Seventh and Ninth Appellate Districts.
Judge Rice has served on the Ohio Judicial Conference Executive Committee from 2011 to the present. She is currently the co-chair of the Criminal Law and Procedure Committee. She also sits on the Appellate Procedure Committee.
Judge Rice received her B.S. degree from Purdue University, Krannert School of Management and her J.D. degree from the University of Akron School of Law. She has been admitted to the Michigan Bar and to the Ohio Bar.
Judge Rice began practicing law in a general practice family firm in Hubbard, Ohio. She practiced with her husband, the Honorable Ronald J. Rice; her father-in-law, the late Honorable Ray J. Rice; and her sister-in-law, Attorney Theresa Rice Daugherty.
Judge Rice was employed as an Assistant Trumbull County Prosecutor from 1991 to 1999. First, she served as Chief Counsel for the Drug Prosecution Unit. She supervised this unit and was responsible for prosecuting all felony drug crimes in Trumbull County. She established and directed the Pharmaceutical Diversion Unit targeting violations of drug laws regulating the ethical distribution of drugs by pharmacists, doctors, and other professionals. She was appointed Mahoning County Special Prosecutor to prosecute the Mahoning County Coroner on drug trafficking charges.
Judge Rice was appointed Criminal Administrator of the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office in 1996. Her duties included plea authorization on all major felony crimes. She was also the courtroom prosecutor assigned to prosecute all criminal cases assigned to Judge W. Wyatt McKay.
Eventually, Judge Rice was appointed First Assistant Prosecutor in the Criminal Division of the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office. She was responsible for overseeing all felony criminal prosecutions. She was trial counsel on major criminal cases, including capital murder, murder, and rape cases. She supervised the criminal staff of ten attorneys and support staff.
While serving as First Assistant Prosecutor, Judge Rice was appointed Chief Counsel for the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force, Vertical Prosecution Unit. She was responsible for setting up this unit, which was designed to provide multi-jurisdictional prosecution of major drug law violations and in-house counsel for the task force. She coordinated efforts among the Mahoning and Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Offices and the United States Attorney’s Office. Judge Rice had ultimate responsibility for the prosecution of all major drug cases prosecuted by the task force from indictment to verdict. She was appointed Special Assistant United States Attorney from 1997 to 1999, to prosecute two high-level drug traffickers in United States v. Moxley and United States v. Walker.
From 1999 to 2001, Judge Rice was an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office, Department of Justice, in Youngstown, Ohio. As a member of the General Crimes Division, she prosecuted major felonies, including firearm and drug law violations, cyberstalking and interstate stalking cases, and bank robberies. She was involved in the development of the first Weed and Seed program in Youngstown, a federally-sponsored multiagency approach to law enforcement, to prevent or “weed out,” violent criminals, drug traffickers, and gangs in high-crime urban areas and at rebuilding, or “seeding,” these areas with human services and educational programs.
Judge Rice is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association. She is also a member of the Trumbull County Bar Association, in which she served as its president from 1996 to 1997. She was a member of its Executive Committee for four years and also a member of its Grievance Committee for three years.
Judge Jennifer Brunner's website: http://www.jenniferbrunner.com
Judge Cynthia Westcott Rice's website: http://www.judgecynthiarice.com