Judicial Selection in the States: Ohio
March 27, 2013 :: The Columbus Dispatch
After 45 years of practicing law, I believe that the way we elect judges has to be changed. Many voters have no idea who the...
Courtesy of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of...
The Ohio judiciary is composed of two appellate courts--the supreme court and the court of appeals, and three trial courts--the court of common pleas, the county court, and the municipal court. The court of common pleas is the court of general jurisdiction. Judges in Ohio are selected in nonpartisan elections, which means that party affiliations are not listed on the ballot. However, political parties have a prominent role in selecting judges since judicial candidates are nominated in partisan primary elections and are endorsed by political parties.
Not only are political parties involved in judicial selection in Ohio, but at an increasing rate so are special interest groups. In 2000, Citizens for a Strong Ohio, a group backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spent an estimated $4 million on advertisements opposing the reelection of a sitting supreme court justice, and the Chamber itself spent between $1 and $2 million. Citizens for an Independent Court, a group supported by trial lawyers and labor unions, spent approximately $1.5 million in 2000. In 2002, independent groups spent an estimated $5 million on television ads depicting various candidates as pro-workers, pro-business, and pro-family. In 2004, the state legislature adopted broad disclosure requirements for groups that raise and spend money to influence elections.