Judicial Profile – Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge William Harsha
For more than 25 years, Judge William Harsha has sat on the Fourth District Court of Appeals bench. He and the other three judges on the court travel county to county hearing cases.
“We’re problem solvers, and we try to do things that resolve conflicts,” Judge Harsha said.
Judge Harsha said it’s those conflicts that keep his work interesting because there’s always something new that comes before him in court.
“I tell people our knowledge is a mile wide but sometimes it’s only an inch deep,” Judge Harsha said.
Case in point: An interesting appeal about fighting chickens.
“The ironic part was they were trying to save these chickens, but they ended up putting them in cages together and they are fighting chickens so the chickens all started killing themselves and then the remedy they wanted in the end was to kill the chickens, dispose of the chickens so it was kind of an ironic case,” Judge Harsha said.
Before he was ruling on appealed cases, Judge Harsha was arguing in front of the bench as the Pickaway County prosecuting attorney.
Judge Harsha didn’t set out to become a lawyer or judge. He wanted to become a veterinarian, but then calculus and organic chemistry got in his way. He liked the outdoors so he switched his field of study and received a master’s degree in environmental science.
Out of college, he worked for Michigan’s Public Service Commission and the Department of Natural Resources. He even worked as a laborer and helped build a subway in Washington, D.C.
“I think it’s beneficial. It gives me a lot more insight to things,” Judge Harsha said.
Maybe that’s why he is more reflective on his career at this point.
“When you start out it’s hard to decide cases. Things aren’t as black and white as you think maybe they would be – they are a little gray. And then you kind of progress and you get some experience and cases seem to be easier. Now I’m at a stage where I may be second guessing myself a little bit. I’m back to the stage where black and white is a little more gray. Maybe I’m giving a little more thought, maybe your philosophy changes a little over time but it’s interesting that I almost feel myself going full circle in that regard,” Judge Harsha said.
When he leaves the appeals court in 2019 due to age restrictions, Judge Harsha wants his legacy to include three words.
“I would hope consistency. I would also hope fairness and thoughtfulness. Those things I hope people can see in every decision that we make,” Judge Harsha said.
“It’s been a great career. I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of really competent people work with and for me and that makes the job so much easier and so much more beneficial so it’s been a pleasure to work,” Judge Harsha added.