Section: News

Four judges vie for seats on Ohio Supreme Court

Students have probably heard a lot about the presidential race in the past few weeks, but they may not have seen much coverage on the current campaigns for the Ohio Supreme Court. The race is between Justice Pat Fischer and Justice John P. O’Donnell for one seat, and Justice Pat DeWine and Justice Cynthia Rice for the other; Justice Maureen O’Connor is running unopposed for Chief Justice. Here is what students should know about the four candidates before casting their votes in November.


Rice is the Appellate Court Judge for the Eleventh District Court of Appeals in Warren, Ohio, which covers Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Portage and Trumbull counties, according to her website. The Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) “highly recommended” her for the Ohio Supreme Court. She was endorsed by the Akron Beacon Journal and The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Rice has heard more than 3,000 cases and has written 1,100 opinions, many of them for cases dealing with murder, rape and drug crimes. She also served as president of the Trumbull County Bar Association, where she was a member of the Executive Committee and the Grievance Committee.


DeWine serves on the Cincinnati-based First District Appellate Court, according to his campaign’s website. He was chosen to sit by designation — when a judge serves on a court on which they do not belong — on the Ohio Supreme Court. The OSBA marked him as “not recommended.” He is an adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati and practiced law for 13 years at Cincinnati firm Keating, Muething & Klekamp. DeWine served as a judge on the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. He was endorsed by the Ohio Republican Party, Buckeye Firearms Association and groups often associated with construction and small business.   


Fischer currently serves on the Ohio First District Court of Appeals, according to his campaign’s website. He was elected to the court in 2010, and won reelection in 2012. Fischer was president of the Cincinnati Bar Association in 2007-8, and was rated “highly recommended” by the Ohio State Bar Association. He was also endorsed by The Cleveland Plain Dealer, National Federation of Independent Business/Ohio and the Canton Repository. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he was a partner at Keating Muething & Klekamp prior to his appellate judgeship, according to his biography on the Hamilton County Court of Appeals website.


O’Donnell was elected to the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in 2002, and again in 2006 and 2012, according to his website. In 2008, the Ohio Supreme Court selected him to serve as one of eight court judges in the state “to preside over a commercial docket devoted strictly to business litigation … which was designed to assure litigants that their cases would be handled consistently and predictably,” although the OSBA only “recommended” him for the Supreme Court. Since 2008, O’Donnell has been responsible for 2,000 commercial cases. He was a civil attorney until he was elected to the state bench in 2002.


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