Monday, October 14, 2013

Justice Robert M. Duncan: Legal Trailblazer

Justice Robert M. Duncan
Portrait of the late Ohio Supreme Court
Justice Robert M. Duncan
Occasionally we are able to celebrate someone who has made a tremendous difference in the lives of many. Justice Robert M. Duncan was such a man. On October 10, in an official session of the Supreme Court of Ohio at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center, the late justice’s family presented to the court his life-like portrait by Toledo artist Leslie Adams.  

The dedication ceremony was very personal and inspiring and can be seen here in our video archive. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor noted that Justice Duncan was a man of many “firsts.” He was the first African American to serve on the Ohio Supreme Court, the first to win a seat in a statewide Ohio election and the first to be appointed to the federal bench in Ohio. He presided over the case that, in a legal first, ordered the desegregation of Columbus schools. He was a true legal pioneer, blazing a trail for others.

The speakers at the portrait dedication noted Justice Duncan’s illustrious public service career, his generosity, and his love of life. And his family spoke of him with moving devotion.  

Although he ended his judicial career in 1985, Justice Duncan continued to contribute to the legal profession and his community until his death in November of last year. Through his service on the bench and in the community, Justice Duncan was a model for all who aspire to public service. We will be reminded of him by his portrait, which will hang in the Moyer Judicial Center.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

On the Road Again

In just a few weeks, the seven justices of the Ohio Supreme Court will travel for the fall session of our Off-Site Court Program, where twice per year we convene in official session at a location outside Columbus. This will be our 67th trip since the program was started by the late Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer in 1987.

Crawford County will be our host on October 23 when we hear oral arguments in three cases beginning at 9 a.m. at Bucyrus High School. This is a chance for students to discover how different appellate cases are from the typical TV court portrayals of justice in action.

Students and teachers from Bucyrus, Buckeye Central, Colonel Crawford, Crestline, Galion, and Wynford high schools received curriculum material beforehand, including summaries of the cases that will be argued. Volunteer local attorneys worked with the educators at each participating school to explain Ohio’s judicial system and help review the case materials. The preparation for the event is truly a team effort! 

On Wednesday morning, we justices will meet with the students for a question-and-answer session before the first scheduled argument. First, Chief Justice O’Connor introduces each justice who then has a moment to talk. I usually mention the 5 important skills that we need to properly do our jobs as judges: the ability to listen, read, think, write and speak – skills that continue to be developed in high school and beyond. Then at question time these young men and women can show their curiosity about their state court system. 

After attending oral arguments, students will meet with the case attorneys for a debriefing and discussion of the legal issues in the case they just heard. Generally, this is the favorite portion of the event for all involved.

You can find more information online about the Supreme Court Off-Site Court Program as well as a video showing footage from past sessions. We are looking forward to being in Crawford County.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

iCivics Teachers Council Needs You

How would you like to be a part of a national effort to create free, innovative educational materials to reverse our young peoples’ declining civic knowledge and participation?

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s iCivics program is accepting applicants for its Teachers Council, to help with teacher engagement and product development.

In four years, iCivics has produced many educational video games as well as vibrant teaching materials that have been used in classrooms in all 50 states. It offers the nation’s most comprehensive, standards-aligned civics curriculum that is available freely on the Web.

By becoming a member of the council, you’ll receive many benefits, including:
  • A letter of commendation from Justice O'Connor sent directly to your administration.
  • A press release in your local community upon acceptance to the Council. 
  • Access to an all expenses paid meeting in Washington, D.C. with fellow Council Members, iCivics staff, education and technology leaders, and Justice O'Connor as her schedule permits.
  • And much, much more.
  • Read the instructions / FAQs, then download the fillable PDF application.
  • Attach the completed application and the 3 other required documents (outlined in the instructions) to by October 18 at 5 p.m. EST. 
  • Share this link with your teacher friends!
Teachers and anyone passionate about serving teachers may apply, including nonprofit directors, library and media specialists, and curriculum specialists. Instructions and the application are available online, with the application due by October 18 at 5 p.m. EST.