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. JudicialVotesCount.org 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!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Students to Attend Lecture on Justice Thurgood Marshall at Moyer Judicial Center

More than 200 high school students are expected to hear author Wil Haygood speak about Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American and 96th justice on the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 20. The lecture will be held at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center as part of the Forum on the Law Lecture Series.

Marshall was considered a giant in the civil rights movement and was the attorney who argued and won the U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson to the U.S. Supreme Court, he became an associate justice and served 24 years. 

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Thurgood Marshall

Haygood’s book “Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination that Changed America” recounts the stop-at-nothing efforts by a group of Southern senators to deny Marshall’s confirmation. The history behind and culture of the 60’s are crucial to his story.

Haygood is a Franklin Heights High School graduate and Columbus native. For three decades, he was a reporter for the Boston Globe and the Washington Post, covering national and international stories. In 2008, he wrote the compelling story of Eugene Allen, the White House butler who served eight presidents over 34 years, the basis for the 2013 award-winning movie The Butler.

The program will the 13th Forum on the Law lecture. Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer established this series to reach out to the public by featuring regional or national speakers who address contemporary or historic legal topics.

Click here for an archived view of Mr. Haygood's presentation.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Looking at the Federal Court System

It is easy to be confused about the two separate court systems within the United States.

The Online Paralegal Programs website recently released a helpful infographic about the federal court system. Remember that although most cases are handled in state courts, violations of federal law are first tried in one of 94 U.S. District Courts. These cases, can later be appealed to one of the 13 U.S. Courts of Appeal and, potentially, to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Although we at the Ohio Supreme Court accept about 10 percent of cases appealed to us, the U.S. Supreme Court takes less than 1 percent.
Look at the graphic of the Federal court system and compare it with Ohio’s court system. Notice the similarities and differences. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Look Inside a Federal Courtroom

Do you think of Law and Order when it comes your knowledge of the court system? How about that other Judge Judy or The Good Wife? Since the old days of Perry Mason and L.A Law, people have been influenced by how these shows portray judges, lawyers, and the legal system.  But everyone needs to remember that TV is entertainment, not real life. 

There are many places to find accurate information about the courts, though. The United States Courts website released a video that shows what actually happens in a federal courtroom. You can watch the students in the video as they explain a federal case and how a judge determines the final outcome. The “You Be the Judge” video series is highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Judicial Votes Count

With so much focus by the national media about next year’s presidential election, it might be easy to overlook the fact that there’s an election this year. 

The Nov. 3 ballot includes 56 municipal court judicial races in 29 Ohio counties. 

Unfortunately, many voters will not complete their ballot because they won’t cast a vote in the judicial races. A major reason cited for this drop-off in voting is because of a lack of information about the candidates running for judge. 

JudicialVotesCount.org is a new website designed to provide voters with the information they need to make an informed decision in judicial races. The candidates have provided details about their legal background and why they are running for the judgeship.

The website also contains valuable information about the important role of judges and the duties of courts at all levels in Ohio – something that teachers might find useful in their classroom instruction.

The website was developed by a partnership among Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, the Ohio Newspaper Association, and the Ohio Association of Broadcasters.

Voters should consider adding JudicialVotesCount.org to their list of resources for future elections. It’s a good way to get quality information about judicial candidates.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ohio Lawyer Helped Write the 14th Amendment

Many prominent Ohioans have helped shape the foundation of the United States. You may not know that an Ohio congressman was the main writer of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

John Bingham, a prominent lawyer, judge, and Ohio congressman served as a judge advocate in the Abraham Lincoln assassination trial and as a prosecutor in Andrew Johnson’s impeachment trials. He died in Cadiz, Ohio in 1900. 

Although the Fourteenth Amendment has five separate sections, the words most often quoted come from section one:

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” 

This language has been interpreted many times by the U. S. Supreme Court in landmark cases such as Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, and Roe v. Wade.  And recently in Obergefell v. Hodges, the court relied on the amendment in a 5-4 decision that guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry.

The Fourteenth Amendment was passed by Congress on June 13, 1866, and ratified on July 9, 1868. The words that John Bingham helped write have great vitality, living on nearly 150 years later.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

National Judicial College Hours Count for Ohio Judges

As students and teachers head back to the classroom over the next month, Ohio judges also have education on their minds.

Every two years, all judges in the Buckeye state must complete 40 hours of continuing judicial education. Ten of those 40 CLE hours are required to come from instruction offered by the Ohio Supreme Court Judicial College. Those 10 hours can now also be offered by the National Judicial College (NJC).  Judges can receive up to one Ohio Judicial College credit hour for each hour of instruction for a maximum of 10 Judicial College credit hours.

The Ohio Supreme Court recently adopted the new amendment, which takes effect Aug. 17.

This rule will bring new opportunities to judges who wish to experience courses beyond the state level. And, I’m happy to have more Ohio judges join me in learning at the NJC.

I received my Master of Judicial Studies in 1992 from the College and University of Nevada, and later joined the NJC faculty where I teach a variety of courses including a week-long course on Ethical Issues in the Law next scheduled for September 2016.

NJC courses, originally held only in Nevada, now have branched out to other locations. Subjects range from the rule of law to the newest improvements in court technology – all offering the exchange of ideas and collaboration with judges from other states.

Last year the NJC celebrated its 50th anniversary in judicial education. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Non-Attorneys Can Now E-File with Supreme Court

The Ohio Supreme Court continues to amaze me with how technology-driven it is. With the success of a pilot program that we started toward the end of last year, the court in January decided to continue allowing attorneys to e-file case information through our e-Filing Portal. Not only does this save attorneys from having to drive to Columbus to file cases, it also saves quite a few trees along the way.

Now, starting today, the court is allowing self-represented litigants to e-file documents. We justices recently approved the new rules.

Since Jan. 5, 72 percent of all attorney filings have been sent through the e-Filing Portal, and I’m sure non-attorneys will be following suit.

Watch below to learn more about this convenient, cost-efficient way to file and the specific guidelines that non-attorneys should know if they’re filing electronically.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Offering a Second Chance

Big mistakes often have serious consequences, but sometimes it’s possible for a second chance to give hope to those who need it. One court in Ohio is doing just that.

It’s not quite a specialized docket – like the Veterans, Drug, and Mental Health courts – but the Allen County Juvenile Court is helping teens and young adults get their lives back on track through a treatment program.
The juvenile court judge and a team of specialists are giving 14- to 21-year-olds a chance to avoid placement in a detention facility. They enter a treatment program that focuses on changing personal attitudes and correcting the behaviors that would put them behind bars.
The Allen County program gives the teens a second chance at life, and usually by the time they finish, they will have gone through more than 200 hours of counseling and meetings with treatment specialists. Two Lima teens are featured in the video below. Take a look.

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Focus on Families and Addiction

Ohio has 110 juvenile court judges who preside over some of the hardest decisions a judge has to make – those in cases of child abuse and neglect.

Many families who come before the judges are there because of problems that stem from addiction.

Juvenile court judges from 56 Ohio counties joined substance abuse treatment providers, child welfare advocates, and other community partners recently at a one-day symposium to discuss how parents and children in their communities are affected by addiction.

The Ohio Supreme Court, along with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, assembled a group of community partners for the 2015 Judicial Symposium on Addiction and Child Welfare on June 23.

Each county team developed action plans to ensure that families receive treatment intervention and the judicial oversight, and support they need to continue their recovery.

Last year, common pleas court judges participated in a similar event.

A new video, “Let’s Treat it Together,” introduces an explanation of the science of addiction and the response of courts who are addressing a solution. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor explains in the video how we all must work together on this problem. Let’s all join the chief justice in that call for action. The future of our children is at stake.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Moot Court vs. Mock Trial – What’s the Difference?

Mock trial, moot court – two competitions and two high-school-team winners. Do you know the difference between these two programs?

Mock Trial

A “mock” trial means a trial acted out by students as if they were trying a case before a judge or jury. Students play all parts in the trial as attorneys, clients, and witnesses. Opening statements, direct and cross examination, and closing arguments are all part of the mock trial.
In March, 300 high school students from 32 teams competed in a three-day mock trial event. At the 32nd Annual High School Mock Trial Competition, Westerville North High School defeated Ashland High School. Westerville North, by the way, continued in the competition to place 10th at the National High School Mock Trial Championship earlier this month. Congratulations, Westerville North!
Moot Court
The word moot means “in dispute,” and this program differs from portrayal of a trial because it allows students to act as attorneys for an appeal.
The moot court experience lets students handle an appeal of a simulated case that has already been tried. A losing party to a case always has the right to appeal to one of the 12 appellate courts in Ohio, and a panel of three judges will make a decision based on the written papers (briefs) and the oral arguments of the attorneys. There are no witnesses, just the attorneys arguing their legal positions to the judges. 
The student-lawyers in moot court argue for the appellant (who wants reversal) or the appellee (who wants the decision affirmed.) Springfield High School students recently won the second annual Moot Court Competition where more than 100 students representing 16 high schools across Ohio appeared before a panel of judges and lawyers and argued their cases as appellate attorneys.  Hooray, Springfield!
The Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE) sponsors these programs and hosts the civic competitions for students.  Teachers should know that younger students can benefit from studying the court system as well. OCLRE has started hosting a middle school mock trial showcase where students learn about the roles of judges, attorneys, and witnesses from classic books read in school when they act out the characters in a legal setting.
The Ohio Supreme Court supports OCLRE along with the ACLU of Ohio Foundation, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ohio State Bar Foundation, and the Ohio State Bar Association.


Friday, May 15, 2015

iCivics Website Unveiled

Former senator and astronaut John Glenn and retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor teamed up to launch iCivics Ohio and just unveiled a new website designed to bring students up to speed on civic education.

Glenn and Justice O’Connor are concerned with lack of knowledge students have about government and citizenship. The website makes sure civic education isn’t an afterthought for schools and their students.
Ohio students will have the opportunity to access digital civic-education lesson plans made specifically for teachers.

As you may know, I’m an iCivics representative for the state of Ohio, so this program is very near and dear to my heart.
Please click HERE to read more about the website. And leave a comment below if you have any questions about the program.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What is a Crime?

Every state has its own answer.  In Ohio, a crime is defined as specific conduct that is subject to punishment either as a felony or misdemeanor – either for doing something forbidden (such as murder or theft) or for not doing something required (such as failing to register as a sex offender).

People are expected to know what a crime is so they know how society expects them to behave. Generally, crimes in Ohio are set forth as laws – called “statutes” in Title 29 of the Ohio Revised Code – but these statutes are not always easy to read and understand. 

The 130th General Assembly recognized this and created the Ohio Criminal Justice Recodification Committee, a special 24-member committee to work on a comprehensive plan for revising criminal laws. Judge Fred Pepple of Auglaize County Common Pleas has been elected Chair and Tim Young of the Ohio Public Defender’s Office as Vice-Chair. Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor appointed me to be a member of this committee.
On May 7, 2015, the committee held its first meeting.  Am. Sub. H.B. 483 instructs us to study current criminal statutes  and  recommend Ohio’s Criminal Code with the goal of “enhancing public safety and the administration of criminal justice.”  We are to complete our work by August 2016.  It is a big and important project, and if the job is done well, changes will be recommended to make our criminal laws fairer and simpler to read and understand.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Day to Celebrate the Rule of Law

Established in 1958 by President Dwight Eisenhower, Law Day is a time to celebrate the rule of law. Although it is officially celebrated on May 1, several courts and bar associations host Law Day events throughout the month. Two of my colleagues, Justices Judith French and William O’Neill, plan to travel across the Buckeye state this month to participate in Law Day festivities.

This year also marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta – the Great Charter. Written in 1215, the Magna Carta contains the statement that no one person is above the law. This historic document is considered by some to be of primary importance because it is the basis for the concept of the rule of law.
Magna Carta - 1215

Speaking of the rule of law – the 2015 Ohio State Bar Association Convention is happening right now in Sandusky. From Wednesday until Friday of this week, lawyers and judges from across the state are meeting to confer and study and share best legal practices. This year the main theme of the conference is “Access to Justice.”  What better way to ensure that the rule of law continues to protect all citizens than to provide the means for all to obtain the legal assistance they need.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

An Inspiring Trip

I recently visited with students from the Jones Leadership Academy in my hometown of Toledo to talk about law and leadership. At the invitation of local attorney Pariss Coleman, I had a wonderful time meeting with the school’s principal, Dr. Ward Barnett, and assistant principal, Antonio Davis as well as students in the Jones Leadership Law Program and students from the school’s chess club, who recently received tournament trophies.

Class picture.

We talked about the Five Secrets of Success and the importance of education. These 7th through 9th-grade students are no strangers to good work and perseverance, for they study hard at Jones Leadership Academy. The school’s educators stress community service and leadership and as someone who continues to teach, I appreciate their professionalism and their dedication to the students.  
Justice Lanzinger meets with students,
teacher Mr. Nathan Shrider, Principal Dr. Ward
Barnett, Assistant Principal Antonio Davis,
and attorney Pariss Coleman.
Thank you to everyone at the event for giving me the chance to meet with future leaders in our community.   

Justice Lanzinger with Jones Leadership
Chess Club members Anthony King,
Brictorria Moccabee, and Whitney Hughes.
Justice Lanzinger with gavel given
by the Jones Leadership Chess Club 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Another Ohio Appellate Court Offers Video Access

You may know that we at the Ohio Supreme Court have streamed, recorded and archived our oral arguments since March 2004. Our website provides the links to updated materials.

Now the Ninth District Court of Appeals, based in Akron, has decided to begin posting its own oral arguments on YouTube. The Ninth District becomes the first of the 12 appellate courts in Ohio to use this platform for reaching the public.

Many people do not understand the appellate process. TV does not offer shows about courts of appeals, maybe because the work doesn’t seem dramatic. There are no witnesses, no evidence – just arguments presented to a panel of three judges about why a trial decision should be reversed or upheld.

The decisions by our appellate courts announce the law that must be followed in other cases within the district. Sometimes, if the district court decisions conflict, a case may need to be settled by our court. All the more reason that the courtroom door be open for public understanding of this important part of the legal process.

The U.S. Supreme Court so far has refused to allow cameras in the courtroom. As more state courts allow the public to see judges in action, perhaps the highest court in the nation will change its position and do the same.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Holding Court in Mansfield

Yesterday the Ohio Supreme Court traveled to Mansfield as part of our Off-Site Court Program. Twice a year we travel across the state and hear cases in a county courthouse or at a school.

More than 500 students from 11 schools in Richland County heard one of three oral arguments at Mansfield Senior High School. You can watch a video of the students’ experience here.

But before you click the video and see the process that allows the justices to hold an official court session outside of Columbus, you may be interested in a bit of history.

In the court’s very early days, there were only 3 Supreme Court “judges” instead of 7 justices.  And there was no separate courthouse in which to hear cases. Instead, the judges rode throughout the state on horseback. They called this travel “riding the circuit.” The judges carried law books along with clothing in their saddlebags, and they stayed overnight in homes of local residents when they travelled to a county. 

By 1834, Supreme Court judges rode more than 2,000 miles each year and covered 72 counties across the state. Those pioneer judges really needed an automobile!

Fast forward more than 100 years, and you now see the court again going out to Ohioans. I enjoy our twice-a-year journey because the Off-Site Court Program gives students a chance to see us in action and directly experience oral arguments.  And as a 21st century justice, I’m glad we don’t spend those hours on horseback.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Not Just Miss Manners! The Civility Project

Last month my post talked about the new Courtroom to Classroom project sponsored by the Ohio Supreme Court. Today, I’m happy to mention another program.

The Middle School Civility Project is a package of seven lessons available to middle school teachers with embedded links and references.  And these civility lessons are more than about etiquette.

In these times of increased social media and less face-to-face-contact, students need to see that it is important to respect and value their peers and act civilly toward others, particularly when disagreements arise. When middle school students don’t know how to react to conflict or pressure from their classmates, teachers, and parents, they may cope by disruptive behavior and bullying.

In an effort to address civility and teach students how to avoid patterns of behavior that harm others, OCLRE developed new curriculum in a series of activities designed to help students become aware of their rights and responsibilities and respond to conflict with others through mediation. Students are also shown how to start a service learning project in their schools.

The civility project lessons include:

·         What Is Civility?
·         Acts of Civility Around School
·         Citizens’ Rights and Responsibilities
·         Communication and Conflict Resolution

It’s hoped that early lessons about respect for others and the appropriate ways of handling disputes might counteract the development of later criminal behavior. These lessons are intended to help teachers assist their young students in becoming better citizens.

The curriculum can be used in the classroom or as a project for OCLRE’s Youth for Justice program. It is supported by The Thomas J. Moyer Legacy Committee of the Ohio State Bar Association and funded by the Ohio State Bar Foundation.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Courtroom to Classroom – Our New Program

Flash for all teachers! The Ohio Supreme Court has just started a new civic education program. Courtroom to Classroom allows students to watch live-streaming video of oral arguments and have local attorneys help them learn more about the judicial system through a real Supreme Court case.

Students from Westland High School in Galloway and London High School were the first to participate.

Last week, two local lawyers met the students in each school to discuss Arlie Risner v. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, a case that was argued on Wednesday.

We justices were asked to decide whether Ohio law allows the Department of Natural Resources to receive money restitution for the value of a deer from a hunter who illegally killed it when the hunter was fined and the ODNR already had possession of the deer’s remains.

After watching the oral arguments online in their classrooms, the attorneys who had prepared the students debriefed them and encouraged them to ask questions about the proceedings they had observed.

This program is a great companion to our Off-Site Court Program where the justices travel outside Columbus twice a year to hear oral arguments. Students from the counties we visit watch our oral arguments live either in their high schools or at the county courthouse.  They then can talk to the attorneys who just argued before the court.

With Courtroom to Classroom, students can stay in class yet still benefit from watching live arguments. There is no need to arrange the transportation that is often a financial barrier in bringing students to the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center.
So, teachers – if you think your school would be interested in participating in Courtroom to Classroom, contact courttours@sc.ohio.gov or 614-387-9223 for more information.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Our Time to Honor Black History

February is Black History Month – a time when we honor African Americans and remember important events in our history.

United States Courts created a video profile of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffery P. Hopkins of Cincinnati.

Judge Hopkins explains how he and his family moved to Ohio after his uncle was murdered by a sheriff in Georgia and what it was like living in the segregated south.

Click below to hear Judge Hopkin’s inspiring story, and his path to the federal district court bench. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Friendly Competition

Competition. The word conjures up sports, doesn't it? The pride of winning, or, the sadness of defeat. As a former teacher, I know that competition based on more than physical skills can be just as intense for high school students. Case in point: the students who participated in this year’s We the People competition.

High school students from all over the state who spent months pouring over our country’s founding documents, news articles, and text books, came to the Ohio Statehouse on January 23 ready to demonstrate their comprehension of constitutional issues to a panel of judges. They were prepared, poised, and professional in their presentations and during the follow-up questions from the judges.

I was especially glad to see students from the Law and Leadership Institute (LLI) program participating in We the People for the first time. LLI was started by the Ohio Supreme Court to prepare students from underserved communities for post-secondary and professional success.

Congratulations to all the students – and their teachers – for a great day of competition!

You can see more about the competition and what’s next for the winning team in this video from Court News Ohio.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

An Oath of Office

A new year brings new leadership and January has been a month of investitures with several state leaders taking their oaths of office!

Supreme Court Justices Judith L. French and Sharon L. Kennedy took their oaths of office during a traditional swearing-in ceremony last week in the courtroom of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center.

Justice Sharon Kennedy
Justice Judith French

And on Jan. 12, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor administered the oaths to Gov. John Kasich, who started his second term at midnight, and to Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor in the Senate chambers of the Statehouse. Attorney General Mike DeWine was sworn in on Jan. 11. Secretary of State Jon Husted renewed his oath in the chambers of the House of Representatives on Jan. 12. Auditor Dave Yost was sworn in on Jan. 12 in the Statehouse atrium, and Treasurer Josh Mandel began his second term on Jan. 12 with a swearing-in ceremony at the Statehouse rotunda. Justice Kennedy returned the favor as she helped swear-in some lawmakers on Jan. 5 as they became part of the 131st General Assembly.

Taking an oath is an important part of history. It reminds us that we have to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the Ohio Constitution, and it binds us to perform our duties in good faith.

You may not know this, but a newly elected or appointed judge must take the oath of office before entering judicial office, and an incumbent judge must take the oath of office before the commencement of each term of office.

When we take the judicial oath, we recite:

“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 the duties incumbent upon me
as _____(type of judge)____,according to the best of my ability and understanding.”

Here’s to a new year of Ohio leadership and to its top officials.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Courts and a Legacy in the Making

On Monday, the country celebrates a great man who helped lead the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for equal rights with peaceful marches and powerful speeches. But there were other fights during this time – those that were settled in the courts and judicial system.

The United States Courts examines how the lives of Martin Luther King Jr. and a federal judge intertwined during the civil rights movement.
Photo courtesy of the United States Courts

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year – New Technology

Happy New Year to all!  Starting today, the Supreme Court of Ohio will accept electronically filed documents (e-Filing).  The rules changed last year to allow attorneys to file all their paperwork with the court for the first time. The e-Filing Portal is now ready for all registered attorneys as well as for those filing pro se (for themselves).

Cleveland Assistant Director of Law Linda Bickerstaff was one of the nearly 200 lawyers who initially signed up to e-File. She says, “The ability to file electronically with the Supreme Court gives me equal footing with opposing counsel that may be in the Columbus area, because I previously had to complete my work days ahead of the deadline just to be sure it would be received on time.”

If you are interested in e-Filing, just remember:

·       Documents must be received through the e-Filing Portal before 5 p.m. Eastern Time to be considered filed that day.

·       Documents of more than 300 pages must be submitted as multiple PDF documents  rather than as one large file.

·       E-Filing is optional, but those who choose to use the portal must register and set up  an account.

The United States Supreme Court will not be far behind Ohio in accepting e-Filing. Chief Justice John Roberts said in the 2014Year-End Report that the Court’s own e-Filing system is being developed with hope that it will be operational by 2016.

“Once the system is implemented, all filings at the Court—petitions and responses to petitions, merits briefs, and all other types of motions and applications—will be available to the legal community and the public without cost on the Court’s website,” Chief Justice Roberts said.

But unlike Ohio, paper filings will still be required in Washington.

To make sure that Ohio litigants understand the new process, the e-Filing Help Desk for the Ohio Supreme Court at 614.387.9980 can help with your questions or concerns. Find the portal on the court’s homepage at sc.ohio.gov.