While serving in the military,
he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Wright
State University and later received a juris doctorate from
the University of Toledo College of Law.
Before entering private practice as an attorney, Duhart worked
for two judges as a law clerk. One he called a personal and
professional mentor, Robert W. Penn, who served as a Toledo
Municipal Court judge. After Penn retired from the bench,
Duhart also worked briefly for Judge Amy Berling.
“Through that experience, I got a chance to work hand-in-hand
with the judiciary and got to know many of the judges in town,
Duhart said. “That was one of the other things that encouraged
me to progress in my career.”
Duhart has worked for both the Lucas County and Wood County
public defender’s offices, the legal department at Fifth Third
Bank, and even litigated death penalty cases.
Duhart spent 16 years practicing civil and criminal law in probate,
municipal, state, and federal courtrooms. His private law
practice focused on
the areas of criminal defense and personal injury.
Then-Ohio governor Ted Strickland appointed Duhart to fill a
vacancy in Lucas County Common Pleas Court in late 2010
following the resignation of
Judge Charles J. Doneghy.
“As an attorney we all consider whether or not you’d want to be
a judge. I was no different. I always knew I wanted my career to
progress and if the opportunity ever came up to advance my
career I’d pursue it,” he said. An unusual series of events
occurred and I was able to take advantage of it.”
In the recent Toledo Bar Association's 2012 judicial candidate
poll, Duhart received the highest ratings among judges and
candidates in Common Pleas Court at 93 percent.
“I was humbled and happy to see that,” he said. You’re always
flattered when your colleagues see you in that light.”
Aside from his membership in several bar associations and
law-related organizations, Duhart mentors young people and
serves as a board member at the Frederick Douglass Community
Center not far from his childhood home.
“Every day I wake up I try to be firm, fair and consistent, I
try to bring that attitude to the bench. I’m a man of faith,” he
said. “I’m of the firm belief you can get far in life with hard
work. As judges, we are the faith of fairness and equality.”
The Democrat is being challenged for a six-year term on the
bench by Republican Kenneth Phillips, who’s making his
first bid for elective office. Phillips has practiced law for 25
years and currently handles mainly juvenile court cases as a
staff attorney for an alternative court. His most notorious case
involved defending Robert Jobe, a teen convicted of
killing Toledo police detective Keith Dressel several
But Duhart believes his varied experience as an attorney and
brief time as a judge sets him apart from his political
“Anyone who comes before me, I want them to feel you’ve taken
the time and energy to hear their side of the case, hear the
issues, thought conscientiously about their decision, and were
fair and consistent in that decision,” he said. “That’s the
philosophy I bring to the bench.
Duhart also brings a
business sense to the bench. He and his wife Nicole
are the proprietors of several tax
preparation franchises throughout Toledo and The Melting Pot
restaurant. His believes his varied personal and professional
experiences allow him to see all sides of a situation in court.
“No situation is black-and-white. There’s always an underbelly
to the circumstances that come before you,” he said. “Judges
have life experiences and legal experiences they bring to the
bench to fairly and conscientiously make a decision.