Making Democracy Work

Info from - Justice of Supreme Court of Ohio (Term Beginning 1/1/2019)


Responses are printed exactly as received


Occupation: Judge, Ohio Fifth District Court of Appeals

Education: J.D. Capital University Law School. B.A. Ohio University.

Work Experience:
Judge, Fifth District Court of Appeals, 2013 to present. Judge, Licking County Common Pleas Court, Domestic Relations Division, 2005-2013. Director, Licking County Child Support Enforcement Agency, 2001-2005. Partner in the Law Firm of Jones, Norpell, List Miller and Howarth. 1997-2001. Associate Attorney at the Law firm of Swank and Wilson. 1992-1997.

Judicial Experience (courts and years): Ohio Fifth District Court of Appeals, 2013 to present. Licking County Common Pleas Court, Domestic Relations Division, 2005-2013.

What about your non-judicial legal experience qualifies you to be a judge?
My time as a practicing attorney provided me with a solid background for a successful judicial career. I represented a wide variety of clients in both the civil and criminal areas, doing both trial and appellate work. This broad range of experience provided me with the legal and personal qualifications to succeed as a judge. I attended law school at night. During the day I worked for the Franklin County Municipal Court Clerk of Court and the Ohio Public Defender's Office. These law school jobs provided a sound foundation for my legal career.

Why are you running for this particular court seat?
I believe in our democracy and in our constitution. I have great respect for our legal system. During my time on the bench I have considered it my privilege to participate in our system as a Judge. I hope to be elected as an Ohio Supreme Court Justice so I can work to ensure the system works for all according to our constitutional principles. Further I have strong feelings about the way all participants in the system should be treated. Every person who enters a courthouse, no matter what their role, should be treated with dignity and respect, in short as a citizen in their courthouse. I believe that Judges at every level should be fair, timely and only rule on the specific issues in front of them. Judges should interpret the law and then be humble enough to stop, refraining from legislating from the bench. These are the values and principles I lived by as a Common Pleas Judge, as an Appellate Court Judge and these are the values and principles I will live by as an Ohio Supreme Court Justice.


Responses are printed exactly as received


Occupation: Judge, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, 2005-Present

Education: J.D., Cleveland State University Cleveland-Marshall College of Law; B.A., John Carroll University; St. Ignatius High School

Work Experience:
Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, 1992-1997; Attorney in Private Practice, 1997-2004

Judicial Experience (courts and years): I was elected to serve as a Judge in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in November 2004 and took of×ce on January 3, 2005. I was reelected in 2010 and in 2016. During the last thirteen years, I have presided over thousands of cases involving virtually every type of criminal and civil claim which can be litigated in the General Division. From 2010-2017, I served as one of five judges on Cuyahoga County's Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Court, which oversees criminal cases that involve defendants who suffer from schizophrenia, schizophrenic disorder, or a developmental disability.

What about your non-judicial legal experience qualifies you to be a judge?
Fighting for victims as a Cuyahoga County Assistant County Prosecutor and for injured workers as a private attorney taught me how important it is that people can see that their court system operates fairly and efficiently, and that they have access to it. Building greater trust in our court system requires advocating for systemic criminal and civil justice reform. I currently serve as first Vice President of the Ohio Common Pleas Judge's Association. I am also a current member of both the Ohio State Board of Bar Examiners and the Ohio Jury Instruction Committee. I served for six years on the Ohio Supreme Court's Commission on Professionalism.
In each of these roles, I have worked to advance policies that make our court system more transparent and fair. I have worked to expose the practice of prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges who allow criminal defendants to resolve serious accusations, such as rape and gross sexual imposition, by accepting factually baseless pleas. Allowing defendants to plead to irrelevant offenses that have no basis in fact enters incorrect information into the public record, gives an inaccurate account of criminal activity, and often circumvents registration laws for sexual offenses. Because of this practice, employers who conduct important criminal background checks and those who rely on conviction data (such as law enforcement, victim advocacy groups, future sentencing courts, and the general public) cannot have confidence that the information they receive accurately reflects what people may have done.
For a number of years, I have led an effort to have Ohio adopt a modification of Ohio's Criminal Rule 11 to specifically require that plea agreements maintain a factual basis, as is already required in our federal system. Despite having the backing of The Plain Dealer, The Columbus Dispatch, the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, and the Ohio Alliance Against Sexual Violence, the current Ohio Supreme Court rejected this effort without explanation. The Ohio Supreme Court is the steward of Ohio's justice system and must take responsibility for making it fairer and more effective. I believe my efforts to reform the system have helped prepare me for the role of Associate Justice, where I will be able to work with all of our justice system's stakeholders to shape statewide judicial policy and help restore and deepen the public's trust in the justice system.

Why are you running for this particular court seat?
In the broadest terms, the Ohio Supreme Court is responsible for ensuring:
1.That Ohio's justice system runs fairly, effectively, and efficiently.
2. That Ohio's laws are justly applied.
When these jobs aren't done well, the public's faith in our courts begins to erode and I believe that's what has been happening in Ohio. People fear that our courts are focused less on the fair application of the law and more on serving the interests of those who can afford to access them and those who help fund judicial election campaigns. Maintaining public confidence in our court system should be a priority for everyone. Our justice system is the backbone of our society because it provides the means for parties to resolve their disputes. Without our courts, these disputes would tear apart families, businesses, and communities. To operate as designed, however, our courts must earn the public's trust. People must be confident their court system will treat them fairly and that its decisions will be just. I believe our courts can and must do better at earning society's trust. The most important element in accomplishing this is greater transparency because the public's ability to discern that our courts are functioning properly and ef×ciently resolving disputes depends upon it.
I also strongly believe that Ohioans suffer from a huge justice gap. Citizens with lower income face significant barriers to justice. This is not a matter of opinion or debate; it is a matter of established fact. I have worked hard in my courtroom and in the other settings to advance policies that would reform our court system. But, inevitably, there is a limit to how much a single trial court judge can do; building greater trust in our court system requires advocating for systemic criminal and civil justice reform. I'm running for Associate Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court for the opportunity to help rebuild the public's trust in its courts and prove to Ohioans that justice is for ALL of us.