JUDGE LAUREN OGDEN
Candidate: Family Court;
Circuit 30; Division 4
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Judge Lauren Adams Ogden is the Jefferson Circuit Court Judge in Family Division Four (4). She is currently helping to bring Drug Treatment Court back to Family Court to better address the opioid crisis in Jefferson County. Judge Ogden also represents the ten Family Court Judges on the Louisville Bar Association's (LBA) Pro Bono Consortium, a committee devoted to bringing more free legal resources to those in need in our community. She is endorsed in her race by the vast majority of family court practitioners, along with three former Family Court Judges who also served the Commonwealth of Kentucky in Jefferson Family Court, Division Four, namely Hon. Mason Trenaman, Hon. Juda Maria Hellmann, and Hon. Louis Waterman.
Prior to taking the bench, Judge Ogden was a small business owner and private attorney with Ogden & Ogden, PLLC, in her 16th year of practicing law almost exclusively in the Family Courts, while also handling all of her firm’s cases at the Court of Appeals, in Probate Courts, and in estate planning. Judge Ogden is also a licensed, Court-approved family mediator, a wife for life, and mother of a teenaged daughter.
Judge Ogden was active in the community through regular service at pro se divorce clinics with the Legal Aid Society and the Louisville Bar Association (LBA), as well as through her continuing volunteer work with Heuser Learning Academy, Gilda's Club Louisville, Second Presbyterian Church, the Fillies, and P.E.O. (an international organization providing educational opportunities for women), along with numerous other local charitable agencies.
Professionally, Judge Ogden has served as state-wide Chair of the Kentucky Bar Association's Family Law Section and Vice Chair of the LBA’s Family Law Section. She is a graduate of Leadership Louisville's Focus Louisville and the LBA's Leadership Academy. She is a member, and was a long-time board member, of the Women Lawyers Association of Jefferson County (WLA), including being a former President of the WLA, and a member of the Louisville Estate Planning Council.
Judge Ogden is the daughter of a teacher of 33 years and was a proud public high school graduate prior to attending and graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, and Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville, TN.
1. In your career, have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and wished you had handled a case or legal issue differently? Describe the situation and any lessons you learned from the experience.
No, I have not had this experience; I have always given my all to my clients as a private attorney and now, to the parties that come before me as a Judge. Of course, there is always a learning curve, both in private practice and in the judiciary, and with experience we become better and better. However, nothing can truly prepare you fully for the job of wearing the black robe other than actually serving in this office. Since taking the bench, I realized that I am born to do this job that I love, and I am every day becoming the Judge I am truly meant to be.
2. Give an example of a circumstance where you faced an ethical dilemma or problem and explain how you solved it.
I benefited greatly by being trained first, by one of the best law schools in the country, at Vanderbilt University Law School, and then, by the best lawyers I have ever met, both in the highest level of professionalism as well as the greatest ethical standards. Any ethical issue or problem was dealt with immediately and according to the rules of ethics governing all lawyers licensed in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. If anything, I erred on the side of avoiding even the appearance of a conflict of interest at all times, even if an actual conflict did not, in reality, exist. It is because of this practice and pattern of highest professionalism that the vast majority of family law attorneys have endorsed me in my judicial race.
3. What do you believe are the most important qualities of a judge, and how has your professional background and life experience helped you develop those qualities?
I believe knowledge of the law, love for the community, and a positive judicial demeanor are essential qualities of a family court judge. Because I practiced law in Family Court for nearly 17 years, and because I have served as a longtime community leader and volunteer, I have demonstrated my commitment both to the law and to Louisville. Demeanor is not something that can be taught; I have the essential qualities, such as empathy, compassion, and optimism, that make what some believe to be the hardest job at the Courthouse the absolute best job in the world for me.
4. As a potential or sitting judge, what do you consider to be your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
I have often said that a person’s best quality is also her worst quality. I have had to take my love for the children and families in our community and sometimes use that compassion to practice “tough love” where warranted. Parties who come before me in Court should not ever mistake my kindness for weakness, as I insist upon them abiding by the law, the Court’s orders, and all appropriate rules of conduct. While it is sometimes difficult to impose punishments, and it is the only part of my job that I don’t absolutely love, it is necessary in a Court of law.
5. What or who are the major influences in your life and why?
I was blessed and fortunate to be raised in a family that greatly valued education and provided me with many positive role models and a feeling of connectedness to my heritage. For me, public service is in my blood, and so it is an honor to be in some way following in the footsteps of my great-grandfather, who was County Attorney, and my great-uncle, who was a longtime state legislator.
6. Have you witnessed any particular injustices inside or outside the courtroom and how did you respond to those circumstances? How will you respond to similar circumstances as a judge?
Our legal system is certainly not perfect, but it is the best in the entire world. My greatest complaint is that the system, being as overloaded as it is, moves too slowly. I always apologize to parties if they have had to wait all morning for their time in Court or because it has taken months for their case to be heard due to rescheduling issues. I try to combat this injustice (as justice delayed is justice denied) by being one of the first ones into the Courthouse every day and one of the last ones to leave every night. I will often hold a hearing in my Court, and then go back into my chambers and write the order immediately while everything is fresh in my mind. I never leave for the day until every order is signed.
7. Who are your judicial role models and why?
My judicial role models are all of the previous Family Court Judges that have served since the inception of Family Court in Jefferson County, as well as the current Jefferson County Family Court Judges. The original Family Court Judges were truly groundbreaking public servants in setting the standard for family courts around the county and all of us who have followed them on the bench. I also rely greatly on the valuable experience, support, and advice of my colleagues currently serving on the Family Court bench in Jefferson County, as I am the newest Judge to join the team.
8. Describe a circumstance where you took a difficult or controversial position and how you handled it.
I am not afraid to take on tough cases or opponents. While in private practice, I often took cases that weren’t politically “popular,” whether they were against a sitting politician, a former politicians, other local celebrities, or public figures. Everyone deserves to have equal access to the Courts, and I never hesitated to put my clients interests ahead of my own personal self-interest at times.
9. How would you describe your general judicial philosophy?
My general judicial philosophy is strict adherence to, and enforcement of, the law of the land, while always doing justice, fairness, and equity, and while serving above all the best interests of the children who are the most vulnerable and in need of protection.
10. What are some of the most significant challenges facing Kentucky's judicial system and how do you propose to address them?
The judicial system is overloaded due to Kentucky having the second highest child abuse rates in the country and with being in the top ten worst states with regard to the opioid epidemic. We are hoping to better meet the needs of our families by bringing Drug Treatment Court back to Family Courts, and I will be attending an out-of-state, multi-disciplinary conference in May to better assist and lead Jefferson County in accomplishing that goal.