Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ask Justice Judy

Starting this week, every student who tours the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center and the Supreme Court of Ohio will receive a bookmark as a small token of our appreciation.

The bookmarks will be mailed to their teachers. Each bookmark contains two web addresses. One provides a link to my blog where students have a chance to send me a question. Students just have to click on the box that says “Ask Justice Judy” at the top right of this page. The questions can be about the judicial system or something they might be curious about after seeing the Visitor Education Center. I’ll answer a select question every week via video on my blog. This way, the students can learn more about the courts, and I can learn what interests them.

The second link – icivics.org - gives students free access to civics education games. A great lesson plan helps them understand the basics of how government works and these games can reinforce those important lessons.

We can’t wait to see you on your visit to the Moyer Judicial Center.

Friday, January 20, 2012

1912 included big changes at the Supreme Court

The year 1912 has been in the news recently because of comparisons between the grounding of the cruise ship off the coast of Italy and the sinking of the Titanic 100 years ago.

We at the Supreme Court recall 1912 as a significant year too, but for different reasons.

That September, Ohio voters amended the state’s constitution based on recommendations that came from the 1912 Constitutional Convention. Some of those changes affected the Supreme Court, the Justices and the judicial branch overall.

For instance:
• The number of Justices serving on the Supreme Court increased from six to seven, the same number we have now.
• The position of Chief Justice was created as a separately elected office. Before then, the leader of the Supreme Court was known as the chief judge.
• For every court in the state, no matter where the judge served, the judicial term was set at six years.

These changes adopted in 1912 have survived for nearly 100 years. Our Ohio Constitution may be amended in the future and only time will tell if there will be more changes to the judicial branch or to the Supreme Court.

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 Elections Include Judges

This year, 2012, is a big presidential election year, but did you know that many judges in Ohio will also be on the ballot?

Although you might be a long way off from reaching 18 and being able to vote, it’s important to know how your local judges are selected. Watch closely the March 6 primary and the Nov. 6 general election to see who’s running for judge. After all, they are part of the third branch of government, and in Ohio, they are chosen by the people.

All Ohio voters will be able to vote for three of the seven Supreme Court Justices since those candidates run statewide. And just as in other even-numbered years, some judges in other jurisdictions will also be elected. They are from appeals courts, common pleas courts, and county courts whose six-year terms have ended or those who were appointed by the governor in 2011 and must now run to finish unexpired terms. Municipal court judges are the only judges who run for office in odd-numbered years.

All judges in Ohio are elected to six-year terms. Judges without an election opponent automatically receive another full term, but judges may not run if they would be 70 at the time the new term begins. There are many special rules called “Judicial Canons” that judicial candidates must follow during their campaigning.

There’s also a difference between the primary election and general election for judges. In the primary, judges appear on the ballot of the specific party that has endorsed them. In the November general election, though, a party letter does not appear after the name of a judge because the general election is “non-partisan.” This is because a judge does not represent a particular party or its agenda, but is expected to follow the law impartially for all.