In these other dispatches about fair and impartial courts:
- Bill Moyers and Michael Winship emphasized the danger corporate spending in judicial elections poses to a fair and impartial justice system in an op-ed at Consortium News. The op-ed, called “Buying ‘Justice,’” ties in with the recent airing of “Justice, Not Politics” on Moyers and Company.
- While both Montana Supreme Court candidates Ed Sheehy and Laurie McKinnon stress the importance of judicial impartiality, they have slightly different views on how to best demonstrate it, says a Montana Public Radio News article.
- New Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Wilhelmina Wright became the 90th justice and the first black woman to serve on the state’s highest court when she was sworn in to the bench today, according to an Associated Press article.
- The Supreme Court upheld today an Ohio appeals court ruling that will allow local election officials to choose whether or not to allow early voting, according to a New York Times article.
The Columbus Dispatch has reported that Ohio Supreme Court Justice Robert R. Cupp, a Republican candidate for re-election, denied violating any ethical standards when a party in a case before him donated to his campaign. The party is Ohio Edison, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., which gave to Justice Cupp’s campaign through its political-action committee.
Justice Cupp’s statements were in response to those of his Democratic opponent’s, retired Judge William M. O’Neill from the 11th District Court of Appeals. Judge O’Neill accused Justice Cupp as well as another judge, Justice Terrence O’Donnell, of violating the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct.
Judge O’Neill contended that at least an appearance of impropriety occurred when Justice Cupp joined a unanimous decision in favor of Ohio Edison, after the PAC had donated $6,300 apiece to the judges’ re-election campaigns.
Two Ohio Supreme Court justices visited the town of Wooster last week to meet with area business and community leaders, and discuss the court’s history and configuration. Justice Robert Cupp and Justice Terrence O’Donnell are both up for re-election this year, and organized the event as a meet-and-greet with incumbent justices, writes the Wooster Daily Record.
Cupp said the high court is in a state of transition with the unexpected death of Chief Justice Thomas Moyer in 2010. Maureen O’Connor is currently serving as the court’s first female chief justice. In his statement, Cupp said the court’s actions affect everyone in the state, “even though some might not see it that way.”
Cupp also stated that when a judge acts in his or her proper role, “we create stability and predictability.” The judicial system should be stable, predictable and consistent, he said.
O’Donnell spoke of his time as a law clerk in 1971, and said the Ohio Supreme Court was held in great respect at the time. However, that reputation and image changed for a time, he said. O’Donnell said this was because court decisions were not being made “in conformity with what the legislation and the law was.”
The article wrote that Chief Justice Moyer, who served on the Justice at Stake board of directors, worked to restore public confidence in the justices and keep the Supreme Court out of the headlines. “We recognize a public trust needs to be part of what we do,” O’Donnell said. “The more we adhere to our oath, the more predictable the law becomes, the better attorneys can advise clients and the better clients can conduct their affairs.”
In these other dispatches about fair and impartial courts:
- In a NM Politics article, Hans Voss, president-elect of the State Bar of New Mexico, rebuts state Representative Dennis Kintigh’s criticism of the courts, pointing to safeguards in New Mexico’s judicial elections as well as to the state Judicial Standards Commission’s checks on the judges as evidence that judges face accountability measures.
- Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann criticized three ousted Iowa judges for their ruling on gay marriage, saying “they need to act like judges” and not like “super legislators,” saying that the ruling did not reflect the will of Iowa voters, according to a Huffington Post article. She added that, if elected, she will only appoint judges with an original-intent, strict-construction view of the Constitution.
- On Friday, the Ohio Supreme Court rededicated the Front Street building in Columbus, Ohio as the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center after the recently deceased, former Ohio Supreme Court chief justice, according to The Republic. Chief Justice Moyer was a longtime member of the Justice at Stake board of directors.
The Ohio Judicial Center will be named in honor of the late Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, who served the second-longest period as top state jurist in Ohio’s history. The state Supreme Court approved the new name for the Judicial Center.
Justice Moyer, according to a Columbus Dispatch article, “is credited with making Ohio’s court system more open and responsive to the public, and bringing greater professionalism, discipline and accountability to the practice of law.” Justice Moyer was a founding member of Justice at Stake’s board of directors.
A candidate for chief justice in Ohio has likened that court, with her opponent at the helm, to a “rudderless ship.”
“I believe that, at this point, the Ohio Supreme Court is akin to a rudderless ship without a leader, without direction, and post-Nov. 2 [Election Day] that will change,” Justice Maureen O’Connor told the editorial board of the Vindicator newspaper.
A Republican, Justice O’Connor is running against newly appointed Chief Justice Eric Brown, who recently was named by the governor to fill a vacancy created by the death of then-Chief Justice Thomas Moyer.
When contacted by the newspaper, Justice Brown said, “I have been an effective leader on the court. … My style is very hands-on. I don’t lead by press conference. I work with others to come up with solutions to problems. Certainly, there’s a lot of talk this campaign season.” He is a Democrat.
Last month, the pair clashed in a meeting with the editorial board of the Columbus Dispatch. Justice Brown said his opponent should not have cast a vote in a decision lifting restraints on judicial candidate fundraising, because she is running for re-election. Justice O’Connor labeled Justice Brown a “middle-aged white male” and pointed out that if elected, she would be Ohio’s first female chief justice.
To learn more about the state Supreme Court elections in Ohio, check out Justice at Stake’s Ohio news page.
Chief Justice Eric Brown, newly named as Ohio’s top jurist, has made a personal telephone pitch inviting people to attend a campaign fundraiser.
For judicial candidates, “direct solicitation and receipt of campaign contributions is prohibited under the state’s judicial code of conduct,” according to a Dayton Daily News article. Justice Brown is a Democrat, and the Ohio Republican Party released an audio recording of his making a solicitation call, the Associated Press reported.
An Ohio Republican Party spokesman said the GOP was weighing whether to file a disciplinary complaint.
An adviser to the Brown campaign said the candidate did not break the rules. He was encouraging attendance, not asking directly for campaign contributions, the adviser said. Read more
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Some Republican state senators are urging the renaming of the Ohio Judicial CenterÂ in honor of the late Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, and they also are proposing that a commission be set up to recommend judicial appointees to the governor.
Gov. Ted Strickland earlier had recommended renaming of the building, which houses the state Supreme Court. That court would have to approve a name change, according to a Columbus Dispatch article.
To honor Justice Moyer by carrying out some of the changes he had backed, a Republican sponsor said, the proposal would do several things–including setting up a judicial review commission to give Ohio’s governor recommendations for judicial appointments.
Strickland voluntarily makes use of such a commission, the newspaper said, although that was not the case when he picked Franklin County probate judge Eric Brown to complete Justice Moyer’s term.
Justice Moyer was a founding member of Justice at Stakeâ€™s board of directors.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has named a fellow Democrat, Franklin County probate judge Eric Brown (photo at left), to serve as Ohio’s Supreme Court chief justice. He will serve the remainder of the term of the late Chief Justice Thomas Moyer.
Brown will take office May 3. It will be the first time since 1986 that a Democrat will lead the state Supreme Court, according to a Columbus Dispatch article. He will be the only Democrat on a court with six Republican justices.
Brown and Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican and former lieutenant governor, are running for election in November for a six-year term as chief justice. To learn about tributes paid to the late Chief Justice Moyer, a founding board member of Justice at Stake, check out earlier Gavel Grab posts.