Judge Gary C. Bennett was elected to the bench in November, 2009, for the term commencing January 1, 2010. Although newly elected, Judge Bennett is not new to the Elyria Municipal Court. Prior to his election, he served for 10 years as an acting judge for both Judge Locke Graves and Judge Musson. Judge Bennett also served as a Traffic Magistrate for the court from September 2005, until he took the bench in January 2010.
Judge Bennett has been a driving force behind implementing and expanding court diversion programs. The court sponsors diversion programs for minor traffic cases, theft, underage consumption, and low level drug paraphernalia cases. The diversion programs require admission of the offense, attendance at an education program, extensive community service hours, and payment of court costs and probation fees. These programs put the burden and cost of rehabilitation and punishment on the offender. Punishment is fashioned around community service to provide benefits to the community in general.
Judge Bennett has continued his tradition of service to his community and profession after taking the bench. Judge Bennett is a member of the Elyria High School Task Force On Violence In Our Schools. The task force is comprised of school, city, church, and community leaders working toward defining the underlying issues which cause students to committ violent acts and finding solutions to those issues. Judge Bennett was also recently named to the Education Committee of the Association of Municipal/County Judges of Ohio. The committee is responsible for providing legal education for judges across the state of Ohio.
Since taking the bench, Judge Bennett has sponsored and been the district coordinator for the Ohio Center for Law Related Education Mock Trial Competition. Area high school teams compete for the right to qualify for the state championship. Ohio's program is the second largest in the United States.
Prior to his election, Judge Bennett engaged in private practice for 32 years. He also served as the Lorain County Prosecutor and Solicitor for the Village of LaGrange. His community service included 18 years on the Elyria Board of Education, 3 years on the Joint Vocational Board, 11 years on the Lorain County Children Services Board, 4 years on the Lorain County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, and several years on the Elyria Summer Theatre Board.
Judge Bennett is a lifelong resident of Elyria. He graduated from Elyria High School in 1970, Wittenberg University in 1974, and the University of Notre Dame Law School in 1977. He and his wife, Marjory, have 5 children and 9 grandchildren.