Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Court’s Own Home

Many people don’t realize that it took more than 200 years for the Ohio Supreme Court to find its own home. In the very early days, the Supreme Court Justices, (then called judges) were expected to “ride the circuit” by horseback to hear cases in every county in the state. When there were no local courthouses, sometimes cases were heard in county residences. The Court did not even sit in one place until 1857 when it moved “temporarily” to the Ohio Statehouse. And there it stayed for 117 years.

The Ohio Statehouse celebrates its 150th year in 2011. It now houses offices for the executive and legislative branches of government and is the meeting place for the General Assembly. But for over a century, even before construction was completed, the Supreme Court was also there.

First, cases were heard in the southwest corner of the Statehouse (now the office for the Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives). As government grew, between 1899 and 1901 a Judiciary Annex was built and included the Attorney General’s Office as well as the Court and other offices that had outgrown their spaces. The Supreme Court met in split sessions of three justices in the two Annex courtrooms. Those rooms are now the North Hearing Room and South Hearing Room in the Senate Building.

The next move led the Court to the Rhodes State Office Tower in 1974 where it stayed side-by-side members of the executive branch for 30 years. Not until February of 2004 did the Court finally move to the Ohio Judicial Center. This was the first time in the state’s history that the Supreme Court had a building devoted solely to the judicial branch. The first time it had its own home.

You can read more about our award-winning Judicial Center by visiting the website,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A New Beginning

I wish you all the best in 2011 as the Supreme Court of Ohio starts a new year!

Every two years when January rolls around, at least two Justices participate in the administration of the oath of office. In fact, every judge and every other Ohio officeholder takes an oath to uphold the Constitution before starting a new term.
Today, I was sworn-in for a second time as a Justice at a public ceremony along with my colleague, Justice Paul Pfeifer. We were both fortunate to be re-elected by Ohio voters in November. Earlier this month, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justice Yvette McGee Brown, the Court’s newest member, also participated in public inaugurations.

Here’s what our oath says:

“I, (name), do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Ohio, will administer justice without respect to persons, and will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all of the duties incumbent upon me as (name of office) according to the best of my ability and understanding. [This I do as I shall answer unto God.]”

By law this oath is taken before our term begins, and it must be administered by a fellow member of the Court. That’s why Justices typically hold a small, informal private ceremony and then hold a public ceremony later.

You can watch the ceremonies on the Court’s website and see that we are now energized for 2011. I am also eager to continue to discuss important topics about the judiciary with you through this blog and look forward to your participation.