Melody J. Stewart was elected in November 2018 to a full term as the 161st Justice to serve on the Court. Prior to joining the Supreme Court, Justice Stewart served on the Eighth District Court of Appeals – elected to an unexpired term in 2006, and twice reelected to full terms. She served as the court’s Administrative Judge in 2013.
Justice Stewart has more than 30 years of combined administrative, legal, and academic experience. She was an administrator for a health care management company, a music teacher, a civil defense litigator, and a law school administrator and professor before being elected to the Court of Appeals. While on the appellate court, Justice Stewart was assigned to hear cases in other appellate districts and on the Ohio Supreme Court.
Justice Stewart earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati; her law degree as a Patricia Roberts Harris Fellow from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University; and her Ph.D. as a Mandel Leadership Fellow at Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. She also was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Cleveland State University in 2018.
After practicing law as an assistant law director for the cities of Cleveland and East Cleveland, Justice Stewart worked as a lecturer, an adjunct instructor, and an assistant dean at Cleveland-Marshall before joining the full-time faculty. Her primary teaching areas were ethics and professional responsibility, criminal law, criminal procedure, and legal research, writing, and advocacy. Additionally, she taught at the University of Toledo College of Law and at Ursuline College. She also was director of student services at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Law.
Justice Stewart has served on many boards of trustees and been a member of various professional, educational, civic, and community organizations. She also served as a commissioner and chair of the Board of Planning and Zoning for the city of Euclid. Recently, Justice Stewart completed serving as a member of the Ohio Criminal Justice Recodification Committee; on the board of the Supreme Court’s Judicial College; and as chair of the Ohio Capital Case Attorney Fee Council.
Justice Stewart is admitted to practice in the state and federal courts in Ohio, the District of Columbia, and the United States Supreme Court.
Of historical note: Justice Stewart is the first African-American woman elected to the Ohio Supreme Court.