A busy life gets busier for Rini at campaign time
Always on the go, Denise Nancy Rini is returning calls from her Bluetooth phone in her car, leaving messages with poor sound quality, the typical opening of which is, “Hi. It’s Denise Rini calling. I’m on my way home from an event and thought it would be a good time to chat.” The calls usually come very late at night.
This is what it’s like to try to get hold of Rini, a candidate for judge in the Juvenile Division, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. After playing telephone tag for several weeks, this reporter finally managed to speak to her.
Born and raised in Cuyahoga County, Rini attended Baldwin Wallace College and earned a degree in human services in 1998. She later attended Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and earned a law degree and Externship Appellate Court Law degree in 2002. After getting her law degree, Rini was a solo practitioner from 2002 to 2005. In 2005, she was a founding partner at Bartos and Rini LPA, where she continues to practice.
Rini has experience in Juvenile Court. She also practices divorce/separation law, uncontested divorce law and mediation. She has good ratings on Avvo.com, a website of advice on or from lawyers, doctors and dentists, with an overall rating of 7.9 out of 10, and a 3/5 for experience, 3/5 for industry recognition and 5/5 for professional conduct. On Judge4yourself.com, a website run by the four bar associations that represent lawyers in Cuyahoga County, Rini has an overall ranking of 3.0 whereas her opponent, Frankie Goldberg, has a rating of 2.75. The Plain Dealer endorsed Rini and had only good things to say about her.
These ratings and endorsements indicate that Rini is good at her job. However, she said she didn’t always want to be a lawyer or judge for that matter. She originally worked for the Ohio Savings Bank.
“I was employed as the advertising director at Ohio Savings Bank and David Goldberg decided to celebrate the Bank's 100th anniversary by creating Leo's House, a crisis nursery that is part of Providence House. I became involved with Rena Blumberg, Linda Perry, Eileen Durante and Laura Hnat, all women who dedicated their careers to helping children that were abused and neglected.”
When her daughter went to college, Rini decided to back to school and finish her undergrad degree, with the intention of earning a doctorate in psychology, but then plans changed.
“It occurred to me that I could effect the most change by the law,” she said. “By becoming an attorney and guardian ad litem, I could represent children that are abused and neglected and therefore make a difference.”
Rini explained that she waited to go back to school because she was first and foremost a mother supporting her daughter, Michelle, who attended Beaumont and had many activities. Rini coached softball and played competitively, while working two jobs. “I was a tad busy,” she adds.
Some things never change, Rini is still “a tad busy” campaigning on top of working. Her main campaign tactic has been to talk to as many people as will listen. Door-to-door campaigning is one way she has gotten to chat with many voters saying, “The reception has been really great, but there are too many households.”
Running for judge, Rini said, is “exhausting, exhilarating, exasperating. I wish people cared more, but I fear the negative advertising for the presidency and senate races have disengaged many voters.
“Unfortunately there has been little media attention. It is frustrating because appears that very few people care about judicial races.”
Rini said she has a lot of support from friends, family and community members. Election Day is just around the corner.
“The good news is on Nov. 6, the campaigning will end and I have a nap scheduled for Nov. 7.”
Elizabeth Egan is a communication student at John Carroll University.