Civil rights lawyer to run as independent for juvenile court

May 5, 2014

Jennifer Branch, a civil rights lawyer who represented Judge Tracie Hunter in her legal battle to win a Hamilton County Juvenile Court judgeship, will file petitions to run as an independent against Judge John Williams this fall.

Williams is the Republican judge whom Hunter defeated in 2011 after a long battle in federal court over the counting of provisional ballots. He was later appointed to a vacancy on the juvenile court.

Branch is a Democrat, but she is running as an independent. A Democratic lawyer named Susannah Meyer filed to run in Tuesday's primary for Williams' seat, but she withdrew in March, leaving the Democratic Party without a candidate.

The filing deadline for independent candidates is the day before the primary. Branch stepped forward recently to run for the judgeship; and the party has been helping her gather signatures in recent weeks.

"It was about 10 days ago that I decided to run, after I learned there was an opportunity to file as an independent candidate,'' Branch said. "The support I have gotten from the party, friends, the unions has been great. And when I talk to people, they say they want a choice. I will give them that."

Branch said she will turn in at least 5,600 signatures to the Hamilton County Board of Elections.  If 2,841 are the valid signatures of Hamilton County voters, she will qualify for the November ballot.

Branch is a partner in the law firm of Gerhardstein & Branch, which is the firm representing couples who filed suit in U.S. District Court here last week asking that Ohio's constitutional ban on same sex marriages be overturned.

Jennifer Branch
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