Ohio's Top Judge Calls For Nonpartisan Judicial Primaries

By
Associated Press

Dateline
Updated Thu, May 9, 2013 2:09 pm

UPDATE 2:09 p.m. Ohio's top judge has drawn applause from fellow lawyers with her call for eliminating party labels in Ohio's judicial primaries.

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said Thursday that nonpartisan primaries, more cameras in courtrooms and other policy and election changes can strengthen public engagement and trust in the judiciary. She made her remarks during the Ohio State Bar Association's annual convention.

Polls show people believe judges are susceptible to political influence but oppose doing away with judicial elections altogether.

O'Connor wants to see Ohio join 14 other states with nonpartisan judicial races.

Ohio is the only state that identifies the party of prospective judges in its primaries and then sends winners into a general election in which party labels aren't used. O'Connor said party affiliation has no place in judicial races.


Ohio's top judge says it's time to take partisanship out of judicial primaries as a way of reassuring the public that courts are unbiased.

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor planned to lay out an eight-point plan for strengthening judicial elections, including instituting nonpartisan primaries, at the Ohio State Bar Association's annual meeting Thursday in Cleveland.

Ohio is the only state in the nation that identifies the party of prospective judges in its primaries and then sends winners into a general election in which party labels aren't used. O'Connor wants to see Ohio join 14 other states where judicial races are strictly nonpartisan.

Her proposal comes at a time when polls show the public views judges as susceptible to political influence, yet most Ohioans oppose doing away with judicial elections altogether.

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