Monday, April 30, 2012

Celebrate Law Day

In 1958 President Dwight Eisenhower established May 1st as Law Day, a day designed to counteract the Soviet Union’s celebration of communism and to remember our own American heritage of liberty, justice and equality under the law. It’s the 54th time we have been given the chance to reflect on these important democratic principles.

For 2012 the American Bar Association has adopted the Law Day theme “No Courts. No Justice. No Freedom.” This theme boldly states the importance of the third branch of government. Ohio’s Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor says, “Law Day is an opportunity for us to recommit ourselves to ensuring that our courts are properly funded. It is an opportunity to see to it that access to justice is universal; that the courthouse doors are open to all; and that we always have fair, impartial, and peaceful venues to resolve our disputes.”

There will be many events to recognize the importance of this day. You can find more information at the site of the American Bar Association:

In an August 22, 1864 speech to the 166th Ohio Regiment, President Abraham Lincoln took a long-term view of why we reinforce our American ideals and the rule of law:

“It is not merely for to-day, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children's children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives.”

Let’s remember and pass on our heritage with pride, and vigilantly guard the ideals of liberty, justice and equality under law that we have been bequeathed. Not just on Law Day--always.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Every Other Week

When I talk to students, one question that comes up regularly is how often the Ohio Supreme Court hears cases.

Generally speaking, we hold oral arguments over two days every other week throughout the year. This week we hear cases Tuesday and Wednesday (with Wednesday’s session in Marion as part of the offsite court program). The court week is followed by an off-week when the justices have the opportunity to work on pending cases and prepare for new ones – most of the work of the court is actually done beyond the scene of the courtroom.

When our Supreme Court is in session, we hear four to six cases per day. The parties have 15 minutes apiece (except in death penalty cases where each side gets 30 minutes) to argue their positions and the attorneys must also answer questions from the justices during this time. Oral arguments begin at 9 a.m.

I hope you get a chance to hear and see an oral argument. If you can’t come to the court in person, you may watch a case online. Each day starts with these words from the marshal when he opens court:
“All rise. The honorable Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court of Ohio.”

To watch a case that’s already been argued, click this link:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Supreme Court Connected to Famous Civil War General

As the nation continues to observe the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we note that the Supreme Court of Ohio is connected to a significant player in that conflict between the states.

You may remember reading in your history books about Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman and his March to the Sea in 1864 during the Civil War. What you may not have read is that Sherman was a native of Lancaster, Ohio and that his father served on the Ohio Supreme Court.

Charles Robert Sherman was born on September 26, 1788, in Norwalk, Conn. He came to Ohio in 1810 and established his law practice in Lancaster, Ohio. He also had military experience, serving as a major in the Third Division of the Second Brigade of the Ohio Militia during the War of 1812.

The 15th member of the Supreme Court from January 28, 1823 until his death on June 24, 1829, Charles Sherman served a single term. This was a time when those who served on the Court traveled the entire state by horseback – riding the circuit – to hear cases.

General Sherman recalled how excited the children were when their father came home. He wrote: “I can remember well his coming home as usual on horseback, when all the boys would run to meet him. Whoever got to him first had the privilege to ride his horse back to the stable on the rear of the lot.”

Before his time on the Ohio Supreme Court, Charles Sherman served as collector of Internal Revenue for the Third District of Ohio and as a trustee of Ohio University. He also started a private elementary school in 1820 in Lancaster.

For more information on Justice Sherman, visit this link:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Marion or Bust!

In two weeks, the Supreme Court of Ohio will take its show on the road to Marion for the first off-site court session of 2012. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the program, which was started by the late Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer in 1987 to honor the 200th birthday of the U.S. Constitution.

What is off-site court? Twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, the seven justices travel to a city outside Columbus to hear scheduled oral arguments and allow local high school students to be present.

On Wednesday, April 25, beginning at 9 a.m., cases will be heard at Marion’s historic courthouse. The trip to Marion will be the 63rd time we have held oral arguments in a place other than Columbus.

We also speak beforehand to the students who have been prepared to listen to a particular case and who observe the Ohio Supreme Court in action. As a former teacher, this is my favorite part of the program. I look forward to meeting the students participating from Marion County.

If anyone has questions about this program, send them on to me, or you may read more about off-site court by clicking on this link:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Memories of a Class Visit

A teacher from Clevelands New Tech East High School who visited the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center with her students on Tuesday put together a photo essay of their field trip.

It shows the great time that one class had, and what you might expect when you tour the Visitor Education Center here at the Supreme Court.

The students from New Tech East also visited the Ohio Statehouse during their class trip to the capital city.

Watch the photo essay by clicking this link:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

One Justice, two Supreme Courts

Of the 153 people who have served on the Ohio Supreme Court over its 209-year history, only one has also served on the U.S. Supreme Court.

On February 20, 1816, John McLean began his term on the Ohio Supreme Court and served for nearly seven years.

For more than 31 years however, McLean served as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice until his death on April 4, 1861. Appointed by President Andrew Jackson, McLean wrote a number of anti-slavery opinions.

If you ever visit the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center, you can see a bronze portrait of McLean in the Grand Concourse on the first floor. After you enter the building and go through security, turn right to reach the Grand Concourse. Look up and it will be high on the wall above you.

To read McLean’s full biography, click on this link: