Founded in 1802, the Ohio Supreme Court is the state's court of last resort and has final authority over the interpretation of Ohio law and the Ohio Constitution. It is comprised of seven justices: six justices and a chief justice. Most of the cases the court hears are appeals from the twelve district courts of appeals in Ohio. The court was established by Article IV Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution.
The current justices of the court are:
The seven justices on the court, one chief justice and six associate justices are elected to six-year terms on a nonpartisan ballot. In the case of a vacancy occurring between elections the governor would appoint a justice. Candidates run on the ballot without their political affiliation, however, the affiliation is known prior to the election as the parties "nominate" the candidates for their primary elections.
To be a qualified candidate for the Ohio Supreme Court, a person must have practiced law for at least six years, must be admitted to the Bar in Ohio and be younger than 70 years.
The Ohio Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction in cases regarding the state or national constitution, cases that originated in the courts of appeals, cases of conflicting opinions in the appellate courts, cases involving the death penalty, and may review the Public Utilities Commission and the Board of Tax Appeals.
|| The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to issue extraordinary writs. These include writs of habeas corpus (inquiring into the cause of an allegedly unlawful imprisonment or deprivation of custody), writs of mandamus (ordering a public official to perform a required act), writs of procedendo (compelling a lower court to proceed to judgment in a case), writs of prohibition (ordering a lower court to stop abusing or usurping judicial functions), and writs of quo warranto (issued against a person or corporation for usurpation, misuse, or abuse of public office or corporate office or franchise)."
| Fiscal Year
| 2014 |
Term commencing 1/1/15
Term commencing 1/2/15
| 2010 |
- See also: 2010 State Supreme Court elections
Incumbent Eric Brown faced challenger Maureen O'Connor and was defeated.
| Ohio Supreme Court |
2010 General election results
| Maureen O'Connor
| Eric Brown
Incumbent Judith Ann Lanzinger faced challenger Mary Jane Trapp and won.
| Ohio Supreme Court |
2010 General election results
| Judith Ann Lanzinger
| Mary Jane Trapp
Paul Pfeifer ran uncontested and was elected.
| Ohio Supreme Court |
2010 General election results
| Paul Pfeifer
- See also: Political outlook of State Supreme Court Justices
In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of Ohio was given a Campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, Ohio received a score of 0.62. Based on the justices selected, Ohio was the 7th most conservative court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.
Rules of practice and procedure in Ohio courts
The Ohio Supreme Court, pursuant to Article IV of the Ohio Constitution, Section 5(B), has authority to establish the rules of practice and procedure used by all Ohio courts. The court has drafted the following rules:
Justices of the Ohio Supreme Court
The Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct sets forth ethical guidelines and principles for the conduct of judges and judicial candidates in Ohio. It consists of four overarching canons:
- Canon 1: "A judge shall uphold and promote the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety."
- Canon 2: "A judge shall perform the duties of judicial office impartially, competently, and diligently."
- Canon 3: "A judge shall conduct the judge’s personal and extrajudicial activities so as to minimize the risk of conflict with the obligations of judicial office."
- Canon 4: "A judge or judicial candidate shall not engage in political or campaign activity that is inconsistent with the independence, integrity, or impartiality of the judiciary." 
The full text of the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct can be found here.
- See also: Center for Public Integrity Study on State Supreme Court Disclosure Requirements
In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. Ohio earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.
Removal of justices
Justices may be removed in one of three ways:
- A formal complaint alleging judicial misconduct may be filed with a grievance committee of the board of commissioners or a disciplinary counsel. Both are authorized to investigate the report of misconduct and, if, after a finding of credible evidence substantiating the misconduct, the Ohio Supreme Court may then create a commission made up of five judges to determine whether or not the removal, suspension, or retirement of the judge is called for.
- A judge may be removed if there is a concurrent resolution of two-thirds of the members of both the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate.
- The Ohio House of Representatives can impeach a judge by a majority vote and the Ohio Senate can then convict a judge with a two-thirds vote.
| • State ex rel. Cleveland Right to Life v. State of Ohio Controlling Board (2013)||Click for summary→|
|See also: Courtroom Weekly: Money, Medicaid and juvenile laws
In October 2013, Republican Governor John Kasich moved to implement a $2.56 billion-dollar Medicaid expansion plan in Ohio. Governor Kasich, argued that his decision was out of concern that there was a “war on the poor,” and utilized the Ohio Controlling Board, a subdivision of the Ohio Office of Budget and Management, to push through the expenditure of the federal aid provided by the Affordable Care Act. In response, two chapters of the organization Right to Life and six Republican members of the Ohio House of Representatives filed suit against the Ohio Controlling Board and the Ohio Department of Medicaid. The suit contested the Controlling Board’s authority to accept such funds without the support of the Ohio General Assembly. They argued that the Ohio Constitution “forbids the delegation of such major policymaking authority to a small administrative board of legislators” and they are seeking a writ of mandamus to nullify the Controlling Board’s allegedly unlawful action which failed to pass “statutory and constitutional scrutiny.”
The Ohio Supreme Court rejected this argument, stating in part,
|| The Ohio Constitution expressly confers upon the governor authority to excise any item or items in an appropriation bill, and such disapproved items “shall be void.” But the Ohio Revised Code 127.17, as construed by relators, would operate as a statutory negation of the governor’s constitutional powers. The General Assembly would have the power to command the Controlling Board, in all cases, to disregard the governor’s veto in the implementation of appropriations. This interpretation is clearly contrary to the checks and balances that are critical to our constitutional democracy.
| • Freshwater v. Mt. Vernon City School District Board of Education (2013)||Click for summary→|
|See also: Courtroom Weekly: Marriage, juvenile sentences and a jury stalker
In Freshwater v. Mt. Vernon City School District Board of Education, a divided Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a Mt. Vernon school teacher’s firing was justified on grounds of insubordination, leaving the larger issue of religion in schools to be debated another day. The 4-3 decision affirmed the school’s decision to fire John Freshwater, a high school science teacher, because he had refused to remove religious objects from his classroom, including a bible and a poster of a U.S. President in prayer. Though school officials erred in demanding that Freshwater remove his personal bible from his desk, his termination was a legitimate result of ignoring “direct, lawful edicts from his superiors while in the workplace,” the court said.
Hollie Reedy, the chief legal counsel for the Ohio School Boards Association, stated:
|| [The decision] upholds the right of the board to direct teachers to teach the curriculum and not to share religious beliefs with children that are not part of the curriculum.
Freshwater, however, had maintained that his religious materials were meant to inspire his students, not espouse a particular religion. Witness testimony told of Freshwater showing classroom videos discussing creationism and intelligent design, as well as occasionally distributing religious literature to his students. Freshwater also kept a book on Christianity and an Oxford Bible in his classroom. Court documents revealed that Freshwater had put up a poster on the classroom wall depicting former President George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell in prayer with a scriptural passage at the bottom.
In a spirited dissent, Justice Paul Pfeifer lambasted the majority’s decision, claiming that they had “set a very low bar” for insubordination in public schools. Pfeifer also argued that by refusing to tackle the larger constitutional issues of the religious freedom of public school teachers, the court had “[walked] away from the opportunity to provide helpful guidance to every school board in Ohio…who could benefit from knowing more about the extent of and limits on their academic freedom.”
| • Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation v. Schwartzwald (2012)||Click for summary→|
|In Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation v. Schwartzwald, the Ohio Supreme Court held that a mortgage holder must have standing prior to filing a foreclosure action against a homeowner. In this case, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, (“Freddie Mac”) foreclosed on the Schwartzwalds’ home for defaulting on their mortgage. However, before they commenced their foreclosure action, Freddie Mac did not have an assignment of the promissory note securing the mortgage from the previous mortgage holder. The Ohio Supreme Court held in favor of the Schwartzwalds, stating that in order to have standing to file a suit, Freddie Mac needed to have the assignment of the promissory note at the time it filed its foreclosure action and also could not cure its lack of standing after the fact.|
Ohio Supreme Court building in Columbus, Ohio
- 1802: The adoption of the Ohio Constitution in 1802 created a supreme court for the State of Ohio, under Article IV of the Ohio Constitution. The Ohio Supreme Court, at first, consisted of only three justices who were appointed to the court by the Ohio General Assembly and were required to hold court in every county by traveling on horseback.
- 1834: By 1834, the Ohio Supreme Court had jurisdiction over 72 counties and the justices covered 2,000 miles (by horseback) every year.
- 1851: The Ohio Constitution was revised. The new revisions included adding two more justices to the court and changing the judicial selection method, so that the justices were now elected to the court.
- 1912: An amendment to the Ohio Constitution increased the court to its current membership of seven justices and established the office of the chief justice of the court. The amendment also set the judicial term to six-years, which still holds today.
- 1977: The Court created the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which serves to investigate and prosecute complaints and misconduct of the state's judges and attorneys.
- 2004: The Ohio Supreme Court moved to its current residence, at the Ohio Judicial Center, located at 65 South Front Street in Columbus, Ohio.
- Maureen O'Connor is the first woman to serve as Chief Justice of the court. She was elected to the position by voters in the 2010 judicial election.
- Florence Allen, the first woman in the nation to serve as a justice in her state's court of last resort, was elected in 1922.
- Robert Duncan, was the first African-American elected to the court in 1969.
|All former justices of the Ohio Supreme Court:||click for list →|
|Yvette McGee Brown||2011-2012|
|Robert R. Cupp||2007-2013|
|Evelyn Lundberg Stratton||1996-2012|
|Deborah Louise Cook||1995-2003|
|Francis Edward Sweeney Sr.||1993-2004|
|Alice Robie Resnick||1989-2007|
|Herbert Russell Brown||1987-1993|
|Thomas Joseph Moyer||1987-2010|
|J. Craig Wright||1985-1996|
|Andrew Grant Douglas||1985-2002|
|James Patrick Celebrezze||1983-1985|
|Blanche Ethel Krupansky ||1981-1983|
|Clifford Francis Brown ||1981-1987|
|Robert Edward Holmes ||1978-1992|
|Ralph Sidney Locher ||1977-1989|
|Asher William Sweeney ||1977-1994|
|William Burbridge Brown ||1973-1984|
|Frank Daniel Celebrezze ||1972-1978; 1978-1986|
|Lloyd Odom Brown ||1971-1973|
|Robert E. Leach ||1970-1972; 1978|
|Leonard J. Stern ||1970-1977|
|James Joseph Patrick (J.J.P.) Corrigan ||1969-1976|
|Thomas Morgan Herbert ||1969-1980|
|Robert Morton Duncan ||1969-1971|
|Paul Wesley Brown ||1964-1968; 1973-1981|
|Louis Jacob Schneider, Jr. ||1964-1972|
|Paul Morgan Herbert ||1963-1968|
|Rankin MacDougal Gibson ||1963-1964|
|Lynn Bart Griffith ||1962-1964|
|William O'Neill ||1960-1970; 1970-1978|
|John Weld Peck||1959-1960|
|Thomas John Herbert ||1957-1963|
|James Finley Bell ||1955-1962|
|John Marshall Matthias ||1954-1970|
|John Howard Lamneck ||1953-1954|
|Henry Arthur Middleton ||1950-1954|
|Howard Elliott Faught ||1950|
|Kingsley Arter Taft ||1949-1962; 1963-1970|
|James Garfield Stewart ||1947-1959|
|Robert Mason Sohngen ||1947-1948|
|Charles Steele Bell ||1942-1947|
|Gilbert Bettman ||1941-1942|
|Edward Crawford Turner ||1940-1950|
|William Cornelius Dixon ||1938-1939|
|Robert Nestor Gorman ||1937-1938|
|George S. Myers ||1937-1940|
|Arthur H. Day ||1935-1940|
|Roy Hughes Williams ||1934-1946|
|William Frederic (W.F.) Garver ||1934|
|William Lincoln Hart ||1934; 1939-1957|
|Robert Nugen Wilkin ||1934|
|Charles Ballard Zimmerman ||1933-1969|
|Howard Landis Bevis ||1933-1934|
|Carl Victor Weygandt ||1933-1962|
|Will Prettyman Stephenson ||1932-1936|
|Reynolds Robert Kinkade ||1925-1933|
|Harry Luther Conn ||1924|
|Florence Ellinwood Allen||1923-1934|
|Robert Henry Day ||1923-1933|
|George H. Clark ||1922|
|Carrington Tanner Marshall ||1921-1932|
|Benson Walker Hough ||1920-1922|
|Coleman W. Avery ||1920|
|Stanley W. Merrill ||1919-1920|
|James Edgar Robinson ||1919-1932|
|Edward Shiloh Matthias ||1915-1953|
|Thomas Alfred Jones ||1915-1937|
|Hugh L. Nichols ||1913-1920|
|Oscar W. Newman ||1913-1919|
|Reuben Melville (R.M.) Wanamaker ||1913-1924|
|James Foster Wilkin ||1912-1914|
|Joseph William O'Hara ||1912-1913|
|Maurice Herbert Donahue||1911-1919|
|James Granville Johnson ||1911-1922|
|Augustus Neander Summers ||1904-1911|
|William Binford Crew ||1902-1911|
|James Latimer Price ||1902-1912|
|William Zephaniah Davis ||1900-1913|
|John Allen Shauck ||1895-1915|
|Jacob F. Burket ||1893-1904|
|Joseph Perry Bradbury ||1889-1900|
|Marshall Jay Williams ||1887-1902|
|Franklin Joseph Dickman ||1886-1895|
|Thaddeus Armstrong Minshall ||1886-1902|
|William Thomas Spear ||1885-1912|
|Gibson Atherton ||1885|
|Selwyn N. Owen ||1883-1889|
|Martin Dewey Follett ||1883-1887|
|John Hardy Doyle ||1883|
|William Hanford Upson ||1883|
|Nicholas Longworth ||1881-1883|
|William Wartenbee Johnson ||1880-1886|
|John Waterman Okey ||1878-1885|
|Washington Wallace Boynton ||1877-1881|
|William James Gilmore ||1875-1880|
|George Rex ||1874-1877|
|Walter Freeman Stone ||1873-1874|
|William Henry West ||1872-1873|
|George W. McIlvaine ||1871-1886|
|John Welch ||1865-1878|
|Luther Day ||1866-1875|
|William White ||1864-1883|
|Hocking H. Hunter ||1864|
|Horace Wilder ||1863-1865|
|William Yates Gholson ||1859-1863|
|William Virgil Peck ||1859-1864|
|Milton Sutliff ||1858-1861|
|Josiah Scott ||1857-1872|
|Ozias Bowen ||1856-1858|
|Jacob Brinkerhoff ||1856-1871|
|Charles Cleveland Convers ||1856|
|Joseph Rockwell Swan ||1855-1859|
|William Kennon ||1854-1856|
|Robert Bruce Ward ||1854-1855|
|Allen Granberry Thurman ||1852-1856|
|John A. Corwin ||1852-1854|
|Thomas Welles Bartley ||1852-1859|
|Rufus Percival Ranney ||1851-1856; 1864-1865|
|William B. Caldwell ||1849-1852|
|Rufus Paine Spaulding ||1849-1852|
|Edward Avery ||1847-1851|
|Nathaniel Clark Reed ||1842-1849|
|Matthew Birchard ||1842-1849|
|Frederick Grimke ||1836-1842|
|Reuben Wood ||1833-1847|
|John Crafts Wright ||1831-1835|
|Ebenezer Lane ||1830-1845|
|Gustave Swan ||1830|
|Henry Brush ||1830|
|John Milton Goodenow ||1830|
|Elijah Hayward ||1830|
|Joshua Collett ||1829-1836|
|Charles Robert Sherman ||1823-1829|
|Jacob Burnet ||1821-1828|
|Peter Marshall Hitchcock ||1819-1833; 1835-1842; 1845-1852|
|Calvin Pease ||1816-1830|
|John McLean ||1816-1822|
|Jessup Nash Couch ||1815-1821|
|Ethan Allen Brown ||1810-1818|
|William W. Irwin ||1810-1816|
|Thomas Morris ||1809|
|Thomas Scott ||1809-1816|
|George Tod ||1806-1810|
|Daniel Symmes ||1805-1808|
|Samuel Huntington ||1803-1808|
|William Sprigg ||1803-1806; 1808-1810|
|Return Jonathan Meigs Jr. ||1803-1804; 1808-1809|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 The Supreme Court of Ohio & The Ohio Judicial System, "Jurisdiction & Authority," accessed October 2, 2014
- ↑ Springfield News-Sun, "Judicial candidates in Ohio can disclose party affiliation, court says," August 11, 2010
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- ↑ The Supreme Court of Ohio, “Reports & Publications: Annual Reports”
- ↑ Stanford University, "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012
- ↑ The Supreme Court of Ohio & The Ohio Judicial System, "Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct," amended January 1, 2014
- ↑ Center for Public Integrity, "State supreme court judges reveal scant financial information," December 5, 2013
- ↑ Ohio Constitution, Article IV Section 17
- ↑ American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial Selection: Ohio, Removal of Judges," accessed April 2, 2014
- ↑ The New York Times, “Ohio Governor Defies G.O.P. With Defense of Social Safety Net”, October 28, 2013
- ↑ The New York Times, “Medicaid Expansion is Set for Ohioans”, October 21, 2013
- ↑ Complaint: State ex rel. Cleveland Right to Life v. State of Ohio Controlling Board, Case No. 2013-1668, filed October 22, 2013
- ↑ The Ohio Supreme Court & The Ohio Judicial System, "State ex rel. Cleveland Right to Life v. State of Ohio Controlling Board, 138 Ohio St.3d 57 (2013)," accessed March 27, 2014
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 ABC News, "Ohio Court Upholds Firing in School Bible Case," November 19, 2013
- ↑ The Columbus Dispatch, "Supreme Court upholds firing of Freshwater in religious-symbols case," November 20, 2013
- ↑ Los Angeles Times, "Ohio court upholds firing of science teacher with classroom Bible," November 20, 2013
- ↑ The Ohio Supreme Court & The Ohio Judicial System, "Freshwater v. Mt. Vernon City School District Board of Education," February 27, 2013
- ↑ The Ohio Supreme Court & The Ohio Judicial System, "Fed. Home Loan Mortg. Corp. v. Schwartzwald, 134 Ohio St.3d 13 (2012)," accessed March 27, 2014
- ↑ State of Ohio Legislature, "The Supreme Court of Ohio," accessed October 2, 2014
- ↑ The Ohio Supreme Court & The Ohio Judicial System, "History of the Supreme Court of Ohio 1901-1922"
- ↑ The Ohio Supreme Court & The Ohio Judicial System, "Florence Ellinwood Allen Biography"
- ↑ The Supreme Court of Ohio & The Ohio Judicial System, "Former justices - Justices of the Supreme Court of Ohio"