Marilyn Zayas

Hon. Marilyn Zayas

Judge, Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals

In 2018, Judge Marilyn Zayas was re-elected to the First District Court of Appeals. She first joined the Court in 2016 after her election to fill an unexpired term. Since joining the Court, Judge Zayas has sat by appointment of Ohio’s Chief Justice on the Ohio Supreme Court and on the Second, Sixth, Eight, and Tenth District Courts of Appeals.


After her election, Judge Zayas created the “Educating Tomorrow’s Leaders” program, an educational program for high school, undergraduate and law school students. The program invites students to the Court of Appeals to interact with judges and attorneys, learn about the law, and inspire them to dream big and to never give up. Judge Zayas is committed to promoting accessibility and accountability through student outreach and community forums.


She currently serves on the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Character and Fitness, the Ohio Supreme Court’s Ethics, Professionalism, and Diversity Committee, the board of the Immigrant and Refugee Law Center, and the board of Beech Acres Parenting Center.

Prior to joining the First District Court of Appeals, Judge Zayas served the community as an attorney for nearly 20 years after obtaining her law degree. In 2001, she founded a private practice and built a strong reputation by successfully handling complex cases. She has an extensive legal background including investor, business, and family immigration law, intellectual property law, labor and employment law, criminal defense, and juvenile law. She has also served as an adjunct professor at her alma mater, the University Of Cincinnati College of Law and provided legal training to judges, magistrates, attorneys, and the Cincinnati FBI.

Judge Marilyn Zayas was celebrated for her community contributions by Good Morning America as a GMA 2021 Inspiration List: Who’s Making Hispanic Latinx History Right Now. She was one of the 2021 City of Cincinnati City Council Women’s History Month honorees and a 2019 YWCA Career Women of Achievement award recipient. In 2017, she received the prestigious University of Cincinnati College of Law Nicholas Longworth, III Alumni Achievement Award. She was also awarded the LULAC Women’s National Convention Service and Commitment Award in 2014, and the Ohio Commission of Hispanic and Latino Affairs, Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan Award in 2013.

Judge Zayas was born in New York City and grew up in a tough neighborhood. Her dad worked in a printing shop and her mom worked as a seamstress in a garment factory. Judge Zayas overcame numerous obstacles to earn a college degree in computer science. In 1988, Judge Zayas moved to Cincinnati to begin her career as an Information Technology Manager at Procter and Gamble. In 1994, she left P & G to pursue her dream to become a lawyer. Her family includes her three adult children and two adopted rescue dogs, Thor and Sparkle Lou.


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