Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Civics Challenge – A National Essay Contest

Attention, teachers in the 3rd, 4th and 5thgrades:

You have an opportunity to let your students become civics champions. How? By having them join the national civics essay competition.

The National Center for State Courts invites third-to fifth-graders to submit a 100-word essay on “What is Civics Education and Why Is It Important?“ The winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card and copies of the educational graphic novel, Justice Case Files: The Case of the Broken Controller,for his or her grade. The winning entry will also be featured in future NCSC publications.

Entries can be hand-written or typed. Find out how to enter at Come on students. Let’s show the nation that Ohio knows its stuff!

Essays are due by February 20.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Martin Luther King’s Dream of Justice

State and federal government offices, including the Ohio Supreme Court, will be closed on Monday to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

More than 50 years ago,  Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech inspired our nation. And today, students still learn about the meaning of the speech that continues to inspire.  Each February as part of the Supreme Court’s recognition of Black History Month we hear from the local junior division winner of the Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Contest.

It’s wholly appropriate that the Supreme Court hosts this celebration. The ideals that Dr. King outlined in 1963 are those of legal justice and equality. These are the hopes not just of one person, but are the ideals on which our country was founded and those that are to be upheld by our state and federal courts.

State law requires  each judge in Ohio to take an oath of office that promises to strive for justice and equal protection under law.  After swearing or affirming to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Ohio,  the judge promises to  “administer justice without respect to persons,”  and to faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all of the duties of the office according to the best of his or her ability and understanding.
These words regarding administering justice “without respect to persons” echo the portion of Dr. King’s speech that said: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

The U.S. Supreme Court building has the words “Equal Justice Under Law” prominently displayed.  We in the legal profession must continue to work toward equality and justice. And as a nation we can hope Dr. King’s words become more than a dream.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

All in the Family

On December 30, I had the pleasure of administering the oath of office to my son, Josh, as he began a six-year term as a Toledo Municipal Court judge. It was a very proud moment for me to hear him report that he would “faithfully and impartially discharge and perform” his duties “so help me God.”

The Lanzinger family attends swearing-in ceremony
for Toledo Municipal Court Judge Joshua W. Lanzinger.
More than 28 years ago, I began my judicial career in the same court. Now, for the first time, a mother and son are serving together on judicial benches in Ohio.

But other duos of parents and children also exist throughout the state.

My colleague, Justice Terrence O’Donnell and his daughter, Colleen, now a common pleas judge, are among them.

What makes a child follow a parent as a judge? A new video featuring Justice O’Donnell’s daughter and my son has been produced for Court News Ohio. It can be viewed at