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Judicial Campaigns and Elections: Ohio

Campaign Oversight

Judicial candidates are required to complete a two-hour course in campaign standards and file a statement of their qualifications. In addition, the Ohio Supreme Court has adopted an expedited procedure for grievances alleging Canon 7 violations during a campaign.

In the spring of 2002, the OSBA established a statewide judicial election campaign advertising monitoring committee. Candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court were asked to sign an agreement that they would conduct their campaigns in accordance with Canon 7, the committee's guidelines, and "The Higher Ground Standards of Conduct for Judicial Candidates" promulgated by The Constitution Project; take personal responsibility for their campaign materials; and publicly disavow and condemn materials issued by unauthorized sources that violate the agreement. Candidates were also asked to allow the committee to eliminate false, misleading, unfair, unethical, or illegal statements or campaign materials issued on their behalf and to submit all campaign materials for review at least 48 hours in advance of distribution. None of the four supreme court candidates in the 2002 elections signed the pledge, although each vowed to conduct a clean campaign.

Voluntary judicial election monitoring committees have been established by bar associations in Cuyahoga and Franklin Counties. Candidates enter into voluntary campaign conduct agreements in which committees consider complaints filed by candidates, pre-screen campaign advertisements, work with candidates whose materials and/or conduct are problematic in order to make appropriate modifications, and, where agreement cannot be reached, publicize noncompliance and refer the matter for formal review.