March 30, 2021
by Rich Warren
A natural-born storyteller. A gifted musician. Someone who always had a smile on his face. Friends of Judge Patrick McGrath knew him to be all of these and more.
After law school and a short time in private pratice, McGrath joined the Columbus City Attorney's Office, where he rose to the position of chief counsel. In 1988, he was elected to a seat on the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, a position he held for 16 years. He then served six years on the Tenth District Court of Appeals, which covers Franklin County. Choosing not to seek re-election in 2011, he most recently served as a judge on the Ohio Court of Claims and was a visiting judge for other courts in the state, duties he was still pursuing when he passed away in December of complications from COVID-19. He was 78.
Among peers and those who appeared in his courtroom, McGrath had a stellar reputation for fairness and integrity. "He always listened intently and based his decisions on the law and the facts that were presented before him," says Bill Creedon, a Columbus lawyer who argued cases before McGrath.
"He always felt you should look at the person, not the party, when voting for judges," notes Ohio Court of Claims Judge Dale Crawford, a close friend of McGrath for 60 years, dating to their time as roommates in law school. "Pat was very proud that Democrats, Republicans and independents would cross party lines to vote for him."
McGrath was also renowned for his upbeat nature. "He was an eternal optimist," says Lisa Sadler, a juge on the Tenth District Court of Appeals and friends with McGrath since their time in the City Attorney's Office. "He was always positive. You couldn't be down whenever he was around."
Crawford concurs, adding it would be impossible to choose a favorite memory from his long friendship with McGrath. "My memories are mostly of laughter."
This article originally appeared in the spring 2021 Ohio State Alumni Magazine and appears here with the consent of The Ohio State University Alumni Association.