Justices Express Concerns About Instability, Point to Reform Proposals

October 9, 2013

At a recent public forum, Ohio's three newest supreme court justices discussed the threat posed to state courts by significant turnover on the bench. Over the next six years, four of the high court's seven justices—along with approximately 100 judges statewide—will reach retirement age. Justice Sharon Kennedy acknowledged that change of this magnitude could lead to questions about the stability of state laws and their application. According to Justice William O'Neill, the supreme court's only Democrat, this situation heightens the importance of considering how judges are selected and how to ensure judicial quality. O'Neill referenced the judicial election reform proposals that Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor has made, which include using a vacancy nominating commission, holding judicial elections in off years, providing better voter education, eliminating partisan primaries, and lengthening judicial terms, among others. O'Connor invites public input through the website Ohio Courts 2013.