Judicial selection in Ohio

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Judicial selection in the states
Judicial selection in Ohio
Seal of Ohio.png
Ohio Supreme Court
Method:   Non-partisan election of judges
Term:   6 years
Ohio District Courts of Appeal
Method:   Non-partisan election of judges
Term:   6 years
Ohio Courts of Common Pleas
Method:   Non-partisan election of judges
Term:   6 years
Ohio County Courts
Method:   Non-partisan election of judges
Term:   6 years
Ohio Municipal Courts
Method:   Non-partisan election of judges
Term:   6 years

All judges in Ohio serve six-year terms and are elected in a partisan primary, followed by a non-partisan general election.

Supreme Court

Justices of the Ohio Supreme Court are elected in non-partisan elections to six-year terms. Like all Ohio judges, they first compete in partisan primaries.

Ohio is one of seven states in which the Chief Justice is elected by voters.

If a vacancy occurs midterm, the governor appoints a justice to serve. The justice must run for election to the seat for the first general election more than 40 days after appointment. The justice then holds office for the remainder of the unexpired term.[1]

History

Constitution of 1802

This Constitution was adopted by the soon-to-be state of Ohio and created a Supreme Court of three members. Justices were to be elected by the houses of the Ohio General Assembly.

Constitutional Convention of 1850

One reason for this convention was to address dissatisfaction with the method of judicial selection in the state. Like many states during this era, at this time Ohio switched to a method of popular elections to choose judges. Until 1912, judicial candidates were nominated by political parties or selected at conventions to run on a party ticket.

1912 Nonpartisan Judiciary Act

The Nonpartisan Judiciary Act created the Ohio judiciary as it exists currently, and it:

  • determined that in the general election, judicial candidates would run on non-partisan ballots;
  • extended the terms of all judges to six years;
  • increased the number of justices to seven; and
  • added the office of the Chief Justice to the Supreme Court.[2]

For other highlights in the history of the Ohio Supreme Court, visit: History of the Supreme Court of Ohio Timeline.

Nominating commissions

In the year 2007, Governor Ted Strickland created a judicial appointments recommendation panel to help evaluate the qualifications of each applicant for judicial vacancies on the court and to make non-binding recommendations for judicial appointment. In 2011, Governor John Kasich eliminated that panel.

A similar situation occurred in 1972, when Governor Jack Gilligan by executive order created a judicial nomination commission. Three years later, Governor James A. Rhodes abolished it.[3]

District Courts of Appeal

Judges of the Ohio District Courts of Appeal are elected to six-year terms by partisan primary, followed by a non-partisan general election.

History

The Courts of Appeal were established in the 1851 Ohio Constitution. It receives its authority from Article IV, Section 3.

Courts of Common Pleas

There are 391 judges serving the 88 counties of Ohio.

The Court of Common Pleas is divided into four divisions: General, Domestic Relations, Juvenile and Probate.[4][5]

Judges of the Ohio Courts of Common Pleas serve six-year terms and are elected by partisan primary, followed by a non-partisan general election.

If a vacancy occurs, the governor appoints a new judge. That judge must run for in the first general election held at least 40 days after appointment.[1]

The Administrative and Presiding judges of each division serves a one-year term and is elected by the other judges of that division of the court.[6][7]

Qualifications for judgeships

In order to serve on any of the courts, a judge must have been in the practice of law for six years and be under the age of 70. For the Court of Appeals, a candidate must be a resident of the district served. For the Court of Common Pleas, one must be a resident of the county served.

Reform efforts

Since the state has been using the same method of judicial selection since the 1912 Constitution was adopted, the last one hundred years have provided an opportunity for those opposed to the election of judges to call for reform.

2011

On September 8, 2011, Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor delivered her first State of the Judiciary address. In it, she encouraged judges to support the campaign for Issue 1, which would allow judges to serve until the age of 75. During the speech, she said she personally does not support any age of retirement for judges and justices. Also, O'Connor said she supports full non-partisan primaries. Ohio is one of the only states in the nation that has partisan primaries but non-partisan general elections.[8]

Commission-appointment of judges

In 1938 and 1987, citizens voted down proposals to switch to a Commission-selection, political appointment method of judicial selection. In 2000 and 2003, commissions were formed to study the possibility of modifying the state's method of selection. None of these efforts were successful.[9]

Elections

Elections have been a contributing factor of the calls for change. Becoming highly contested, proponents for "merit selection" contend that the rancor cannot possibly end once election season is over. In addition, contested candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court in the 2010 elections spent at least half of a million dollars each.[10] That doesn't include spending from outside sources.

See also

External links

References

OhioOhio Supreme CourtOhio District Courts of AppealOhio Courts of Common PleasOhio County CourtsOhio Municipal CourtsOhio Court of ClaimsUnited States District Court for the Northern District of OhioUnited States District Court for the Southern District of OhioUnited States bankruptcy court, Northern District of OhioUnited States bankruptcy court, Southern District of OhioUnited States Court of Appeals for the Sixth CircuitOhio countiesOhio judicial newsOhio judicial electionsJudicial selection in OhioOhioTemplate.jpg