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During her tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Stewart has received numerous awards recognizing her dedication to public service, to the judiciary, and to all Ohioans. Some of these awards include the National Association of Social Workers, Ohio Chapter Region V - Public Elected Official of the Year Award; the Ohio Women's Bar Association's Nettie Cronise Lutes Award; the Ohio State Bar Association's Government in Action Award, the Lawyer's Guild of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese - St. Thomas More Award; and the Case Western Reserve University School of Applied Social Sciences - Advocate for Social Justice and Leadership Development Award.
In addition to her responsibilities on the Court, Justice Stewart is frequently called on to present, or to participate, in educational forums at the local, state, and national levels to judges, lawyers, law students and students in other graduate and undergraduate programs, and to high school and grade school students.
Justice Stewart is admitted to practice in the state and federal courts in Ohio, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.
Of historical note, Melody Stewart is the first African American woman elected to the Supreme Court of Ohio.
A native Ohioan, Melody Stewart has lived in Cleveland and the greater Cleveland area, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo. Her early education was in the Cleveland Public and Catholic schools while she simultaneously attended the Cleveland Music School Settlement studying music theory, classical piano, and classical guitar. Justice Stewart graduated from Beaumont School in Cleveland Heights and went on to major in music for her undergraduate degree. When asked about the somewhat untraditional path from music to law, Justice Stewart recounts that she never thought about law school when preparing to go to college and also did not think about potential employment. She only thought about what she was interested in studying - music. She often says in jest, “With the name Melody, what else was I supposed to study?”
A proponent of lifelong learning, Justice Stewart earned a bachelor’s degree in music from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, a law degree as a Patricia Roberts Harris Fellow from the College of Law at Cleveland State University, a Ph.D. from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University as a Mandel Leadership Fellow, and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Cleveland State University.
Prior to being elected as a judge in 2006, Justice Stewart worked in legal education as an assistant dean at Cleveland State University's College of Law where she also taught as a lecturer and an adjunct instructor before joining the full-time faculty. Justice Stewart taught legal research, writing, and advocacy; criminal law; ethics and professional responsibility; and criminal procedure. She was also a member of the faculty at the University of Toledo College of Law, taught at Ursuline College, and was an administrator at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Law. Before beginning a career in legal education, Justice Stewart practiced law as a civil defense litigator.
Justice Stewart has spent countless hours serving various organizations and state and local communities through civic, educational, and professional boards and committees such as the Board of Planning and Zoning for the city of Euclid, certified grievance committees, a county Community Juvenile Diversion Program, college visiting committees, the Catholic Charities Service Corporation, the Judicial College of the Ohio Supreme Court, and the Criminal Justice Recodification Committee.