Friday, August 16, 2013

Summer Recess is Over

For many Ohio schools, a new year has begun, or will soon. The Supreme Court of Ohio also has been on its summer recess — its break from hearing new cases. But the recess ends next week when we justices are to hear oral arguments in eight cases.
Courtroom of the Supreme Court of Ohio
Courtroom of the Supreme Court of Ohio
at the Thomas J. Moyer
Ohio Judicial Center

We hear a variety of cases. Some come to us automatically and some are accepted as cases of  general or public interest.  Some have questions arising under the Ohio or U.S. Constitutions.  Others are cases in which two or more courts of appeals have issued conflicting opinions. From late August every year until June, oral arguments are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday mornings on the cases that the lawyers have briefed.

The lawyers for each side have 15 minutes to argue their positions. Each of the seven justices may ask questions at any time, and often a dynamic exchange occurs about the facts or law of the case being argued. The attorneys are signaled when they’re getting low on time: a yellow light signals that there are two minutes left, and a red light signals stop. The same morning after a case is argued, we deliberate and a justice is assigned to write the decision, in the form of an opinion, for the court. On average, an opinion is published within four to five months. 
I encourage you to watch streaming video of the arguments available through the Ohio Channel. It’s a great way to see your judicial system in action. You can then read the published opinion on our website,

Friday, August 9, 2013

FLASH - for OHIO Teachers!

We were given this information on short notice, but the iCivics program is looking for teachers to give input to help design a new product. The curriculum team and developers from Filament Games are hosting an asynchronous focus group via Google Docs. The feedback would be a written-form focus group that gives you a new set of questions to ponder each day and engage with other teachers. Instead of a video conference, you would just comment on the questions throughout the week.

The goal of the questions is to look at how you overcome classroom challenges, and how iCivics can help you with those problem areas. Teachers would only spend about 15 minutes a day from August 13-16.

Please RSVP to Carrie Ray-Hill at by Monday, August 12 with your preferred email address if interested. And feel free to share with other teachers who you think might be interested.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Back to (Law) School

Ohio students at all levels will be heading back to their classrooms this month, and law students are no exception. 

Some people may like to know what it takes to become a lawyer in our state.  First, of course, a person needs to have a high school diploma, and then a college bachelor’s degree before being eligible to enter law school.  But unlike doctors who might have to take pre-med studies in college, “pre-law” courses are not required.  Instead, before being accepted into law school, applicants must take the Law School Aptitude Test, known as the LSAT. A good score and good undergraduate grades make it more likely that a law school will accept someone.
Ohio has nine law schools and soon deans and professors will tell their incoming 2013 class members what to expect.  At most law schools, students will complete the program in at least three years of full-time study.  Upon graduation they receive a Juris Doctor (JD) degree. But that isn’t the end of their studies.
The final hurdle to practice as an attorney is a three-day bar exam administered twice a year in Columbus by the Ohio Supreme Court.  This year, on July 30, 31, and August 1, more than 1,000 aspiring lawyers took the exam.  Now they are waiting for the results and will find out on October 25 if they have passed the bar.  Then, assuming all the other requirements are met, they will be sworn in as attorneys-at-law in the state of Ohio during a special session of our court. 
And active lawyers continue their studies afterwards.  To keep their licenses, they must complete 20 hours of continuing legal education every two years to keep up-to-date in legal practice. 
So you see that the study that law school begins never really ends.  The requirement for life-long learning is just one of the reasons law is a profession.