Judicial elections can be very disruptive to a court’s work, especially an appellate court. Some would see this as one strike against electing appellate judges. The Supreme Court of Ohio has a lot of pending cases that have been argued and submitted. Three justices are running this year, two (Justices O’Donnell and Cupp) for re-election, and one for election (Justice McGee Brown, who was appointed Dec. 10, 2010, is running for an unexpired term. And pursuant to Article IV Section 13 of the Ohio Constitution, if an appointed judge loses an election, her term ends as soon as the results of that election are certified.) So, what happens to all those cases that have been argued but not decided? If all the incumbents win, it’s pretty much business as usual. But in addition to the election, Justice Stratton is retiring at the end of the year, before the end of her term. In the event of a tie vote on submitted cases where Justice Stratton’s vote would be the deciding one, and she retires before a decision, that case or those cases would have to be reargued. If an incumbent or two loses in addition, well, let’s just say it will likely be a mad scramble at holdiay time. So, the Supreme Court of Ohio isn’t hearing any new oral arguments until January 8, 2013.
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Marianna Brown Bettman
Marianna Brown Bettman is Distinguished Teaching Professor and Professor of Practice Emerita at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where she taught torts, legal ethics, and a seminar on the Supreme Court of Ohio. She is also a former Ohio state court of appeals judge. Professor Bettman is a frequent presenter on Supreme Court of Ohio cases at Continuing Legal and Judicial Education seminars and conferences including the Ohio Judicial Conference. She also provides appellate consulting services to attorneys.