March 9, 2007
Lioi confirmed as federal judge
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON A long confirmation battle came to an abrupt end
Thursday as the Senate approved Stark County Judge Sara E.
Lioi’s nomination to be a U.S. District Court Judge for Ohio’s
northern judicial district.
The Senate action followed an odyssey that included successful
efforts to win approval for her in a Senate committee last fall,
only to be followed by a political squabble that prevented her
from getting a confirmation vote in the Senate before it
adjourned at the end of the year.
As a result, President Bush had to renominate the Stark County
Common Pleas judge in January.
At home in Plain Township when she received the news, Lioi, 46,
said she is ready to get to work.
“I welcome the challenge,” said Lioi, who was celebrating with
her mother and a sister. “I love the law, and I love
administering the cases and controversies that come before me.
And I truly, truly look forward to working in the federal
In a speech he wrote for her confirmation but did not deliver
because it happened so fast, Sen. George Voinovich, R-Cleveland,
praised Lioi not just for having “exceptional legal skills,” but
also for being involved in civic activities, which he said helps
her “recognize how the law impacts individuals and communities.”
As a federal judge, Lioi will hear cases in a 40-county judicial
district including Stark, Tuscarawas and Carroll counties. She
expects to be assigned to the federal courthouse in Akron, but
the federal courthouse in Cleveland is also a possibility.
After the fruitless wait for a confirmation vote last year, Lioi
almost got one earlier this week, but it was delayed as a result
of a competing legislative priority.
Late Thursday afternoon, word spread that the Senate would vote
on her nomination imminently.
The Senate took a break from debate over a national
security-related bill at 6:36 p.m. to vote on Lioi’s nomination,
as well as that of John A. Jarvey, a candidate for the federal
bench in Iowa.
After a roll call vote lasting 20 minutes, the Senate approved
Then it was Lioi’s turn.
Mispronouncing Lioi’s last name, which is correctly pronounced
lee-oy, a Senate clerk announced her nomination.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.,
quickly declared that he was “willing to have a voice vote on
Appearing pleasantly surprised, Lioi backer Voinovich said if
the Senate was “willing to voice vote it, I’ll give up my time
(to speak on behalf of Lioi) right now.”
At 7 p.m., the Senate voted unanimously to confirm Lioi.
NEWEST FEDERAL JUDGE
Lioi’s nomination never was controversial. She breezed through a
confirmation hearing last year. Later, however, it took some
effort from former Ohio Republican Sen. Mike DeWine, a member of
the Senate Judiciary Committee, to persuade his fellow committee
member Leahy to agree to send her nomination to the full Senate
for a vote in the highly partisan atmosphere of the Judiciary
Expectations that the Senate would confirm her before adjourning
last year were dashed when a partisan spat unrelated to Lioi got
in the way of a vote.
With her two Labrador retrievers barking in the background, Lioi
expressed her gratitude to DeWine and Voinovich for recommending
her as a judge, and to Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon, for also
She received congratulatory phone calls from Voinovich and Brown
after the confirmation.
Lioi has been a Common Pleas judge since 1997.
She received her law degree from Ohio State University, and her
bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University.