An judge on the Franklin County bench, whose final term will expire next year, has a new position to keep him busy.
Common Pleas Judge Guy L. Reece II assumed the chairman position of the National Conference of State Trial Judges earlier this month at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in Chicago.
“We have dedicated our professional lives to making sure that justice is served fairly in our communities, and the work we do together in the National Conference of State Trial Judges will seek to advance the ideals of trust and fairness in our courtrooms,” Reece said in prepared remarks.
Reece started the conference’s leadership track about five years ago.
He will preside over the organization, which has a membership of more than 1,000 general jurisdiction judges, as it implements its overall theme called “Securing Our Future — Diversity and Inclusion Access to Justice, Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law.”
In addition, the conference will honor former chairman William D. Missouri, a trial court judge from Maryland, with the William D. Missouri Civility Award in August 2019, on top of several civility programs planned throughout 2019.
Reece laughed in an interview with The Daily Reporter when it was pointed out the relevancy for topics such as rule of law and civility in the current political discourse.
But the trail judge with more than 20 years of experience lamented how such issues have become critical in the courtroom.
He’s also concerned about the large number of people appearing in court without legal representation.
Meanwhile, the court system continues to align itself with a technologically-changing society where people want information quicker.
In February, the month after Reece’s term expires, the conference will have mid-year meeting to present a program focused on human trafficking, while also participating in a judicial clerkship program for minority students.
Reece hopes to see some of those students move up to become judges in the future.
“I really enjoy law,” he said.
Ohio Revised Code does not allow judges to run for another term after they reached the age of 70.
But in addition to his duties with the National Conference of State Trial Judges, Reece is involved with several organizations including the Boys Scouts of America’s Simon Kenton Council, the boards of trustees at Ohio Dominican University and the YMCA.
“I don’t intend to sit and do nothing,” Reece said about the next chapter of his life. “I really like to be in the community.”
Reece believes judges should play an active role in their communities within the restrictions of what they can do.
Reece works with a group at his church to supply food for the homeless twice a month, serving about 200 to 300 people.
Aside from his community, Reece intends to stay active in the law including serving as a visiting judge where needed, and definitely sporting a bow tie.
Reece started wearing them after his wife gave him a couple a decade ago. He now has more than 200 bow ties.
“I don’t have the Gordon Gee collection,” he said, referencing the former Ohio State University president.
Born in Mississippi in a family with nine children and raised in St. Louis, Reece thought he would become a chef while he was in high school. He was the first one in his family go to attend college. Reece received a business administration degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
But he found his passion in the legal world after being drafted for the Vietnam War.
During his military service, the now retired Colonel from the U.S. Army was able to serve as counsel for court-martials for misdemeanor cases, which inspired him to apply for law school.
He applied to law schools in his birth state and Virginia, but The Ohio State University reached out to him, encouraging him to apply.
Reece was accepted and after receiving his law degree stayed in Columbus as his wife, Shirley, and children had become established in the community.
“Columbus is a great family town as far I’m concerned,” he said.
Reece worked for the city of Columbus as an assistant city attorney and chief labor attorney in the 1980s. He became a judge for the Franklin County Municipal and Common Pleas courts in 1990.
Reece and his family moved to Indonesia because of his wife’s work but returned to central Ohio after living there for 3 1/2 years. Reece served as Franklin County Board of Elections’ director until he was elected to Franklin County bench in 2003.
Reece has three children and three granddaughters.
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