Weekly Legislative Report: All Ohio Supreme Court candidates rated “Highly Recommended” by the OSBA Commission on Judicial Candidates

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​Aug. 16, 2018

On Tuesday, the OSBA’s 24-member, bipartisan Commission on Judicial Candidates released its ratings of the four candidates running for Supreme Court of Ohio. For the first time in Commission on Judicial Candidates’ recorded history, all received a “highly recommended” rating. Check out the press release to see the breakdown of scores for Judge Craig Baldwin, Justice Mary DeGenaro, Judge Michael Donnolly and Judge Melody Stewart, and to learn more about the process. 

The OSBA is grateful to Chairman and former OSBA President Martin E. Mohler and all members of the Commission who in determining the ratings, diligently considered each candidate’s qualifications, including a thorough review of their decisions, writings, publications, letters of recommendation, docket reports, financial disclosure statements and other public records. Subcommittees also consulted with lawyers, judges and other citizens familiar with the candidates’ reputations, past performance and qualifications as part of the vetting process, and interviewed each candidate last week before scoring them in six categories: legal knowledge and ability, professional competence, judicial temperament, integrity and diligence, personal responsibility, as well as public and community service.  

Just as with the OSBA Judicial Election Campaign Advertising Monitoring Committee, the Commission on Judicial Candidates is one of the many ways in which the OSBA seeks to provide more information to members of the bar as well as the general public about the “least understood branch,” and thereby to promote and defend an independent judiciary.  

When it comes to elections, there are few certainties; however, in the opinion of the Commission, Ohio citizens have four very qualified judges to choose from this November.   

Supreme Court Invalidates Entire Dialysis Amendment Petition 

What Ohio votes will not get to choose this November is whether or not to adopt a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would cap the profits and increase inspections of dialysis clinics in Ohio. On Monday, in a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court of Ohio invalidated petitions submitted by the Ohioans for Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection because they did not file the proper disclosure forms before paid circulators began collecting the more than 300,000 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.   

Though backers characterized the violation as a paperwork error that should not keep Ohioans from weighing in on the issue, the Court reiterated that the Ohio Revised Code requires strict compliance with the law, and invalidation if there is a​ violation. The Committee behind the amendment has already spent approximately $4 million in its signature-collection activities and has pledged they will push on for the next opportunity to go before voters. Meanwhile, a bigger debate about comprehensive ballot reform is looming as many good government advocates, like the OSBA, become increasingly concerned about the proposals being considered as constitutional changes when they really should be part of the Ohio Revised Code.  

Ohio Common Pleas Judge’s Association Opposes State Issue 1

In other ballot news, the Ohio Common Pleas Judge’s Association has come out in opposition to the constitutional amendment that has qualified for the ballot this November — State Issue 1, dubbed the Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment, and Rehabilitation Amendment (see previous OSBA Weekly Report coverage). They say that though judges prefer to rehabilitate rather than incarcerate, this issue is not the way to do it.  

In a statement released this week, the judges said: “Issue 1 masquerades as a more thoughtful approach regarding the sentencing of drug offenders. In reality, the Neighborhood Safety Act will make neighborhoods less safe as the ultimate ability to punish those who steal, cheat and lie in order to obtain and use dangerous drugs will be eviscerated...Few defendants upon arrest are dedicated to getting clean. Usually it is the threat of prison that helps to modify a dependent defendant’s thinking. Issue 1 removes the threat of incarceration from our judge’s sobriety toolkits.” The judges were also critical that the amendment provides no funding or infrastructure for the treatment it calls for, and that it will eliminate the court’s ability to secure restitution for crime victims 

Supreme Court Adopts the Multistate Uniform Bar Exam

Big news for future lawyers across Ohio! The Supreme Court of Ohio, following a unanimous recommendation of a 16-member task force to study the state bar exam, has decided that Ohio will join more than 30 states and begin using the National Conference of Bar Examiner’s Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) starting in July of 2020. Though acknowledging that details need ironing out, the UBE will make it easier for Ohio lawyers to practice across state lines in an increasingly mobile society.  

The UBE enables lawyers in other uniform states to transfer exam scores to Ohio without sitting for another bar exam. Ohio lawyers passing the UBE here also will be able to transfer their passing scores to other UBE states. However, having a passing UBE score in another state does not automatically mean a person is admitted to the Ohio bar. Ohio will retain its authority to set acceptable passing scores and candidates’ character and fitness qualifications. 

Former OSBA President Ron Kopp served as the OSBA’s representative on the Supreme Court Task Force that studied the issue. Recognizing the benefits of portability, he supported the recommendation to move to the UBE so long as there is not a disparate impact on exam takers. The OSBA will continue to work with the Court towards implementation. Read the Court’s announcement here

Week Ahead — Don’t Miss the Annual Meeting

No voting sessions are scheduled next week following the Senate’s cancellation of its if-needed session. The next Senate session on the calendar is Sept. 26, with if-needed sessions penciled in for the 20th and the 25th). The House has if-needed sessions scheduled for Sept. 19th and 20th.

In the meantimedon’t even think about missing the OSBA Convention/Legal Forum, which kicks off Wednesday, Aug. 22 and runs through Friday, Aug. 24 at the sophisticated Hilton Easton, Columbus. Here, you can get up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in the law, including on recently passed legislation, and earn up to 12 hours of low-cost, high-quality CLE credit (including 2.5 hours of professional conduct per day).  

The awards luncheon on Thursday features Justice Judith French, and the Honorable Joseph Cirigliano will receive the Ohio Bar Medal — the OSBA’s highest honor. In addition, at the General Assembly meeting, members will take up proposed amendments to the OSBA Constitution, which you can get up to speed on here 

Register for the OSBA Convention/Legal Forum at www.allohiolegalforum.org 

Tracking OSBA Legislation

As always, you can always track bills we are watching and OSBA priority legislation via the Legislative section at www.OhioBar.org.

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