Judicial reform
3:59 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Ohio Chief Justice talking about judicial election reform

The Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court is continuing her statewide conversations about judicial election reform.  Maureen O'Connor spoke Friday to the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce in Eastgate. 

O'Connor said polling shows people like their local judges, but they think there are problems with the legal system.  She said it is important to have an impartial judiciary.

"A judiciary that is not influenced by personal opinion, by politics, or by any other extraneous information," O'Connor said.  "Judges you know can only make their decisions based on the law and the facts as they are presented to them at court.  And that is what's vitally important."

O'Connor has an eight-point plan, or series of questions for reforming judicial elections.

  1. Should Ohio change the law so judicial races are no longer listed at the end of the ballot?
  2. Should all judicial elections be held in odd-numbered years?
  3. Should Ohio centralize and expand its civic education programming and institute a judicial voter guide?
  4. Should Ohio eliminate party affiliation on the ballot in judicial primaries?
  5. Should Ohio join the other states that have a formal, non-partisan system for recommending nominees to the Governor to fill judicial vacancies?
  6. Should appointments to the Ohio Supreme Court require the advice and consent of the Ohio Senate?
  7. Should Ohio increase the basic qualifications for serving as a judge?
  8. Should Ohio increase the length of judges' terms?

"Now is the time to revisit this topic once and for all, not to do away with judicial elections, which voters made clear they want, but to strengthen them" O'Connor said.  "I hope you will join me in having this conversation."

O'Connor said it has been 45 years since the state last enacted comprehensive reforms in the Ohio judicial process.