Supreme Court of Ohio’s Handling of Cases Submitted With Then-Justice O’Neill Participating, But Released After He Left the Court.

On November 2, 2017, a few days after his gubernatorial-run announcement, Justice Bill O’Neill included this in a letter to the Clerk of the Supreme Court of Ohio:

“I will not be participating in any new matters submitted to the Court from this date forward until February 7, 2018. I will continue to vote on and participate in the resolution of the approximately 99 cases which have been submitted and not yet released.”

I immediately wondered how the Court was going to handle the submitted cases O’Neill had sat on, but that would be released after he left, which turned out to be January 26, 2018, rather than February 7, 2018. I received quite a few inquiries asking the same thing.

Was the Court going to pull the equivalent of a frantic all-nighter, and release everything before O’Neill left? That seemed unlikely.  Only release the cases in which his vote was outcome determinative?  Release as many as possible, and then release the rest after he’d left, but without his vote? Re-argue some? The answer is now clear.

The cases released yesterday, January 30, and today, January 31, all contain a reporter’s note asterisk, which says, “This cause was decided on January 16, 2018, but released to the public on [January 31, 2018, for today’s cases; January 30, 2018 for yesterday’s cases] subsequent to the resignation of Justice William M. O’Neill, who participated in the decision.”

I don’t know how many of those 99 cases are left, but we’ll see if the rest are resolved this same way.

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