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