González is replacing Judge Gene Zmuda, who was elected
to the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals. He already had a
court docket scheduled the same day he was sworn in as a judge,
in front of his fellow judges, family, friends, and associates.
Domestic Relations Judge David Lewandowski administered
the oath, with Mary Jane Flores holding the bible. The
new Lucas County Common Pleas judge [General Division] used to
clerk for Judge Lewandowski and then he became a magistrate.
Mrs. Flores is the widow of Judge Joseph Flores, the first
Latino on the bench in Lucas County [Common Pleas Court,
He admitted he will have to get up to speed quickly on criminal
law, an area he has not touched in several years—but one he’ll
face most often from the bench, “whether it’s a murder case or
some other felony.”
“It’s going to be a challenge. I welcome the challenge,” he
said. “I especially welcome the weight, as a Hispanic, of
something that rarely happens.”
The distinction of becoming just the second Latino judge in
Lucas County history is not lost on
González. He recently went through an
online roster listing all of Ohio’s current judges at every
level—all 721 of them—and only came up with three
“When you talk about minority underrepresentation in
professional fields, that’s the very definition of it” he said.
“I’m not saying they should put people in positions just because
of the color of their skin. There’s got to be qualified folks
out there that are just not getting a shot. That just makes it
more pleasurable for me to get the appointment, because it is so
also knows it has been nearly two decades since his Latino
predecessor last served on the bench. Judge Joseph Flores
was first elected to a seat on the Toledo Municipal Court bench
and moved to Lucas County Juvenile Court about a decade later.
He died in October of 2003 at
age 69, after a year-long battle with liver cancer.
González and Flores are the sons of Mexican immigrants who trace
their roots to migrant farm work. Beloved by the entire
community, the late judge still casts a long shadow in both the
legal and Latino community.
actually welcome the challenge of feeling that weight. I love
it. It’s exciting,” he said. “I’ve had folks communicate to me
that they’re proud there’s a Hispanic on the bench and long
overdue. When he was on the bench, I didn’t know a single
Democrat or Republican who didn’t like the man. Everybody loved
him. I think he transcended politics. If I can be half the judge
he was, I’ll consider myself a success.”
González was previously in private practice as an attorney when
he was sworn in as a magistrate. He spent 12 of his 15-year law
career as a lawyer, much of that handling family law and
juvenile court cases. The other time he spent as a staff
attorney for Judge Lewandowski. He also spent a year as
an attorney at Sandusky County Job and Family Services.
The Findlay native is one of five siblings, the son of
Mexican-American migrant farmworkers who met in Laredo, Texas
and relocated to Northwest Ohio. His father later worked at
Cooper Tire as a millwright for more than 30 years. His mom
worked as a surgical assistant for a time, but spent most of her
life as a homemaker.
González received his bachelor’s
degree in criminal justice and masters of public administration
from Bowling Green State University. He earned a law
degree from the University of Toledo.
González, 50, has lived in Lucas County since 2001. He is
married and has a 14-year old daughter.
The former guardian ad litem will see a big change in his
courtroom role when he becomes a county judge—impartiality. He
openly admits he would advocate for solutions that best served
the interests of children as a magistrate, especially during
nasty custody battles and contentious divorce proceedings.
“I want to be patient and understanding. That’s a big part to
being an impartial judge,” he said, pointing out he’d be
adopting a similar style to the rest of the judges in Lucas
County Common Pleas Court.
Judge Gary Cook
was the master of ceremonies; Father Juan Francisco Molina
of SS. Peter and Paul Parish gave the invocation. At the
reception that followed, La Paloma furnished the