Who Is Rodney Harris
Rodney began his legal career as an associate with Lawson and Gaines, LLC under the tutelage of the late Leslie Isaiah Gaines and Kenneth L. Lawson. In 1998, he opened his own law office Rodney J. Harris, Attorney at Law.
From 1998-2005, his area of practice was: Personal Injury, Social Security, Civil Rights, Juvenile, Family law, and Contracts with a focus on Criminal Law. Rodney practiced law throughout the State of Ohio having tried Jury Trials in multiple jurisdictions throughout the State.
In the fall of 2005, Rodney and longtime friend and colleague, Margaret Allen formed Harris & Allen, LLC. During that time Rodney was invited to lecture and present at the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers 2006 Spring convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Voir Dire in criminal cases.
In 2008, after the tragic death of Margaret Allen, Rodney went back to practicing law as a sole practitioner reopening his law office. He continued to practice as a sole practitioner from until 2014, maintaining private offices in several different communities including: Downtown Cincinnati, Avondale, College Hill and Finneytown. While in private practice, Rodney earned the reputation as an experienced, effective and aggressive Trial Attorney handling cases ranging from Aggravated Murder, Rape, Drug Offenses, Aggravated Robbery to Minor Misdemeanor offenses.
In 2014, Rodney became the Director of the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office Felony Division. He was the first African American to hold the Office of Director in the history of the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office. As Director, he is lead trial Counsel for the office and Death Penalty Certified. Rodney’s other responsibilities include: supervise and provide support/feedback to staff and felony panel attorneys, structure and assign panel appointment teams for daily docket coverage, supervise specialty courts (Veterans, Drug and Mental Health), act as liaison between Common Pleas Court and Criminal Defense Bar, implemented policy/protocol for indigent defense representation, led departmental restructuring within the Felony Division, hired staff attorneys, investigators and support staff, train, mentor and evaluate attorneys, monitor felony staff and panel caseloads, investigate and resolve complaints from clients, regarding panel and staff attorneys, and participate in community events/public relations on behalf of the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office.
Under Rodney’s direction, the acceptable standards of representation for indigent defense in Hamilton County were raised drastically. As a result in 2016, he was awarded “The Jim Looker Award” presented by the Greater Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyers Association for Excellence in the Conscientious and Effective Representation of Citizens Accused of Crimes. In addition, due to Rodney’s expertise and experience in Criminal Law he worked as a legal analyst for ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX networks during the trial of State of Ohio vs. Raymond Tensing, a case in which an unarmed citizen was shot and killed by a University of Cincinnati Police Officer during a traffic stop.
Rodney has been very active in the community. In 2001 during a period of civil unrest in the City of Cincinnati, Rodney along with other members of the Criminal Defense Bar, represented many accused citizens charged with crimes related to the civil unrest Pro Bono. Most recently, he took a lead role with the Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati in educating the community on the law, along with the process and protocol of the legal system, through several community forums. Additionally Rodney presented/lectured at other community forums for the University of Cincinnati Law School and other community groups such as Black Lives Matter. This year, he was presented with the “Distinguished Service” Award from the Black Lawyer’s Association of Cincinnati. Rodney has also served the community as a Precinct Election Official.
Rodney is very active in the community working with children. He has served on the Board of Directors for Wyoming Youth Football and Cheerleading, Powel Crosley YMCA and the Princeton Education Foundation. Rodney realized that the Princeton Community had no intermural youth athletic program and in 2013 he organized and presided over the Viking’s Youth Athletic’s, ltd.; a non- profit youth football and cheerleading organization. Through his leadership, the Viking’s Youth Athletics, ltd. was the first youth football and cheerleading organization to be endorsed by the Princeton City School Board of Education and continues to grow serving families in the Princeton community. Due to his work with youth football organizations throughout the Cincinnati, he is commonly referred to as “Coach Rodney” by youth in the area. Rodney has also served as legal advisor for the Princeton High School Moot Court team.
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