Monday, January 11, 2016

2016 Civics Education Essay Contest

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) is now accepting entries for its free 2016 Civics Education Essay Contest in honor of Law Day, May 1. This year commemorates the 50th anniversary of Miranda v. Arizona, the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court decision that mandates what notifications police must give before questioning a criminal suspect. The statements regarding the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney, among others, are commonly known as Miranda Rights.

Third through 12th graders are being asked to consider, “What are the Miranda rights and why are they important?” Teachers are also encouraged to incorporate the actual opinion of Miranda v. Arizona into their lesson plans. The 1966 case determined that when police take a person into custody, they must be told before they are questioned of their Fifth Amendment right not to make any self-incriminating statements.

The contest is divided into three groups: 3rd-5th graders; 6th-8th graders; and 9th-12th graders. Entries for all grade levels should be typed, 100 words or less, and submitted online at Handwritten submissions will also be accepted and may be sent to:
National Center for State Courts
c/o Deirdre Roesch
300 Newport Ave.
Williamsburg, Va. 23185
It would be great to have an Ohio student as a finalist in this national event.  Good luck to all!
·         First place winners will receive a $100 Amazon gift card.
·         Second place winners will receive a $50 Amazon gift card.
·         Third place winners will receive a $25 Amazon gift card.

All winners will receive a classroom set of NCSC’s graphic novel coloring book series the Justice Case Files.
Complete contest details are available at

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2015 Ohio Supreme Court Case Highlights

As we start a new year, I think it is worthwhile to review the Supreme Court of Ohio’s opinions of the last year. According to our statistics, more than 300 opinions were written. Some related to technical issues of procedure or interpretation of statutes, others covered discipline of attorneys or judges, and many dealt with the constitutional rights of those injured or accused of crime. 

Among cases of particular interest to the public were:
  • An opinion modifying gross-sexual-imposition We ruled that part of Ohio’s gross-sexual imposition law was unconstitutional and struck down the provision that mandated prison terms when evidence other than the alleged victim’s testimony corroborated the offense. State v Bevly, 2015-Ohio-475.

  • An opinion on garbage search We held that evidence from a single trash pull was enough to find probable cause for a search warrant if it corroborates information and tips on drug activity. State v Jones, 2015-Ohio-483.

  • An opinion on a 911 recording In granting the Cincinnati Enquirer’s public-record request, we held that the recording of a 911 dispatcher’s return call to an emergency caller is a public record subject to release. State ex rel. Cincinnati v. Sage, 2015-Ohio-974.

  • An opinion on a traffic stop We held that a traffic stop for a minor misdemeanor made by a township police officer without statutory jurisdiction or authority violates Ohio’s constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure. State v. Brown, 2015-Ohio-2438. 

  • An opinion on charter schools In a case stemming from ongoing litigation brought by 10 Cleveland charter schools against the companies that operated and managed them, we held that an entity managing the daily operations of a charter school has a fiduciary relationship with the school it operates. Hope Academy v. White Hat Mgmt. L.L.C., 2015-Ohio-3716.

  • An opinion on the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act In one of a series of cases on the subject of fracking, we held that a lease that grants oil and gas rights to another party and was recorded with the county recorder is a title transaction, but that expiration of the lease by its terms is not. Chesapeake Exploration v. Buell, L.L.C., 2015-Ohio-4551.

  • An opinion upholding sex-registration We held that a 21-year-old man who had a consensual sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl and who was categorized as a Tier II sex offender and had to verify his home address, place of employment, and school location in person every 180 days for 25 years was not subject to cruel and unusual punishment. State v. Blankenship, 2015-Ohio-4624.

These, and all of our decisions, are a matter of public record on the Supreme Court's website where you may read them in full. Our website also allows you to see and hear actual arguments of the cases online and to read previews and summaries when they are published.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Bill of Rights Day

Written in 1787 and ratified in 1789, the U.S. Constitution is the backbone of the three separate but equal branches of government. It was not a perfect document when first written, and has been amended 27 times throughout its 228 years of its existence.

Today we celebrate the first 10 amendments of the U.S. Constitution – we know them as the Bill of Rights.  Written in 1791 by James Madison, they guarantee all of our personal liberties, the freedoms that government cannot take away.  Can you name them all?

Here is a brief summary:

1. the freedom of religion, speech, press, and peaceable assembly

2. the right to bear arms

3. the right not to have soldiers quartered in your home

4. the right to be free of unreasonable search  and seizure

5. the right to due process of law, freedom from self-incrimination, and protection against double jeopardy

6. the rights of a criminal defendant

7. the right to trial by jury

8. the right to bail and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment

9. the rights listed do not deny the people other rights they retain

10. the reservation of rights not granted to the federal government are left to the states or the people.

View the full text of the Bill of Rights. You can find more resources about Bill of Rights Day at the United States Court website.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Newest Series of Courthouse Videos Premieres

The great state of Ohio has provided a separate courthouse for each one of its 88 counties.  As you will see, some of them are the most important buildings in their counties.  Take the video tour as it unfolds and wait for your own common pleas courthouse to be featured.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Rosa Parks’ Courage

Today is the anniversary of Rosa Parks’ arrest after she refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus. Ms. Parks’ action led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and eventually to a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court. The United States Supreme Court in Browder v. Gayle determined that segregated buses are unconstitutional. You may be interested in the United States Courtsvideo about how Parks’ arrest sparked this historic ruling.

I also had the privilege of honoring Rosa Parks in 2011 in the “Power of One” celebration when the Ohio Supreme Court’s women justices discussed how one person can make a difference.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Federal Court Videos Look to Inspire

The United States Courts just released the newest video for its Pathways to the Bench series. The video series was created to inspire young adults, telling the personal stories of U.S. district, circuit, and appeals court judges from across the country. The stories reflect the influence of those who helped prepare these judges to serve on the federal bench.

Judge Reggie Walton, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, spoke both about his parents and one of his teachers, a coach and history teacher, giving them credit for his success in college and later as a federal district judge. Judge Walton emphasizes that everyone will be challenged sometime in life, but that a difficult background does not need to define who a person becomes.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Use New Website to Help Make Informed Decisions

On Nov. 3, there will be 56 municipal court judicial races in 29 Ohio counties. What do you know about the judicial candidates running for the bench in your area?

There may be multiple judicial races in a single county and several candidates running for each of those positions. This can be confusing for voters. is a newly created website that will help you make an informed decision on Tuesday.

Each judicial candidate has provided personal legal background details so that you can more intelligently choose the next judge in your county. The website also explains the differences among all levels of Ohio courts.

Those of you who live in Ashtabula, Clark, Clermont, Clinton, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Montgomery, Stark, and Summit counties have contested races – more than one person seeks the same judgeship.

Judges can make life-altering decisions that may directly affect you. Please make an informed decision on Nov. 3 and VOTE!