November 23, 2014

Medina
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Judge Kimbler announces retirement, will not seek re-election

After almost three decades on the bench, Medina County Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler announced Monday he will not seek re-election in the November election.

“After a long and thoughtful evaluation, I have decided not to seek re-election as common pleas judge,” said Kimbler, 64. “I would like to thank the voters of Medina County for giving the opportunity to serve them these past 27 years.”

Medina County Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler announced Monday he will not seek re-election. Kimbler, a Democrat, has served as a judge in Wadsworth municipal and county courts since 1986. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY NICK GLUNT)

Medina County Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler announced Monday he will not seek re-election. Kimbler, a Democrat, has served as a judge in Wadsworth municipal and county courts since 1986. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY NICK GLUNT)

Kimbler, a Democrat, will serve his last day in office on Dec. 31.

He said he started thinking about retirement over the summer, citing changes to his pension plan and concerns he might quit before finishing another six-year term as reasons for his decision.

“Although I could run again and then resign from office at some point in my next term, I didn’t think that would be fair to the people of Medina County,” Kimbler said. “While there might be a slight financial incentive to do that, it would mean that I wouldn’t finish a job that I started. That bothered me, so I decided that retirement was the best option.”

He stressed his health was not a factor in his decision. Kimbler, who had cancer surgery performed in 2010, said his cancer has not returned and that he was confident he’d be able to serve another six-year term if he was to seek re-election.

Kimbler said he intends to seek appointment as a visiting judge from the Ohio Supreme Court and to continue as a lecturer for various organizations. He said might get involved in alternative-dispute resolution, which would give people a cheaper alternative to legal proceedings.

“I’m also considering teaching at a law school, but that’s not something I’ve explored at length,” he said.

Kimbler, who began his career in private practice and became Wadsworth municipal judge in 1986, also said he considered returning to his roots.

“I thought about going back to private practice,” Kimbler said, “but I don’t think I’d be as effective after 28 years because, quite frankly, I’m used to having the last word.”

Kimbler moved on from Wadsworth municipal court to the county courthouse in 1996.

In his time at the courthouse, he oversaw Steven Cepec’s capital murder trial — the first of its kind to end in a death sentence in more than 50 years — and the largest civil verdict in county history — in which a jury awarded Holly and Scott Mulkerin $10 million for medical malpractice.

Kimbler said he would miss his staff and coworkers at the courthouse.

“I have been blessed with a great staff and with great colleagues. I wish them all the best in the future and will miss seeing them on a daily basis,” he said.

“All in all, though, it has been a great run and I have really enjoyed my judicial career.”

Kimbler’s retirement was not unexpected. After Brunswick Mayor Gary Werner announced last month that he planned to run for common pleas judge this year, Kimbler said he would announce his decision whether to run again soon after the first of the year.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.