Leaders Help Others Reach Full Potential
By Krista Rinehart, CSG Leadership Center Coordinator
Joyce Campbell was led to public service for one simple reason—a desire to make a positive impact.
“I became a judge because I believed I could make a difference in my community,” said Campbell, a municipal court judge.
Campbell has made a big difference in numerous areas in the Ohio judicial system. Perhaps the most noticeable impacts can be seen in her efforts to establish specialized courts to deal with defendants suffering from mental health issues and to address issues surrounding drunken drivers.
She established the second mental health court in Ohio.
“This specialized docket addresses the underlying mental health issues of defendants and provides access to treatment in an effort to reduce jail time and recidivism,” she said.
Ohio’s court system, like those in most states, is faced with staggering caseloads at a time when budgets are being cut. So reducing recidivism is a goal shared across the nation’s court systems and Campbell’s mental health courts have helped alleviate the problem in Ohio. The also serve as a model for other programs.
“As a result of the success of the mental health program, several years ago we established a similar program for drunken driving offenders that has been equally successful,” said Campbell. “These programs are not only cost effective, but profoundly improve the quality of life for our participants.”
Campbell’s work with mentally ill offenders brought her into contact with one of her professional role models, 2010 Toll Fellow and former Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Stratton.
“She (Stratton) used her position as a Supreme Court justice to speak for those without a voice and fundamentally changed the way the Ohio judiciary deals with seriously mentally ill defendants,” said Campbell.
Campbell admires leaders like Stratton who, she believes, “provide a vision that permits others to reach their full potential.”
Stratton recently filled this mold by encouraging Campbell to apply for the 2012 Toll Fellowship Program. Campbell was selected for the class that will convene in September.
For her part, Campbell finds her key to successfully leading others is carefully choosing what areas in which to take a leadership role.
“I only take leadership in areas in which I am competent and passionate,” said Campbell. “A leader should inspire others and lead by example and not ask others to do what you are not willing to do yourself.”
Before taking the bench in 1999, Campbell built a career in both private practice and as a prosecutor. Just as her time as a judge exposed her to the hard truths of cases involving the mentally ill, her time as a litigator was often shadowed by the heartbreak of difficult cases involving drug and alcohol abuse and its ravaging impacts on families and society.
“The most heartbreaking is seeing the devastation to the lives of children due to the poor choices of their parent,” said Campbell. “Drug and alcohol abuse destroys not only the life of a defendant, but their entire family. When we sentence someone to jail or prison, we sentence everyone that loves or depends upon them.”
The difficulty in facing cases involving children is compounded in Campbell’s eyes by the lack of public attention given to the plight of children who wind up in our nation’s court system.
“It is always disconcerting to me that whenever I have a case involving a dog or a cat being abused, the courtroom is filled with spectators and press coverage,” she said. “On the contrary, no one appears for a child abuse case. This is a sad commentary on our society.”
While the cases facing her are often heart wrenching, like these child abuse cases, Campbell is quick to note that her service can be equally rewarding when the outcome is good.
“The most rewarding aspect as both a prosecutor and as a judge is when a person that has committed a crime learns from the experience and makes changes to their lifestyle to become a productive member of society,” said Campbell.