Speeches

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
Judge Carla Moore Retirement Reception
Jan. 12, 2017

Good evening.

Thank you Ed (Gilbert, president of the Akron-Canton Barristers Association) for that introduction. Thank you as well to the Akron-Canton Barristers Association for serving as one of the sponsors and contributors of this retirement reception.

I’m pleased to be here tonight to honor one of my colleagues on the bench. In a few minutes, others will share personal and professional remarks about Judge Moore. I will lead off with some thoughts confined to Judge Moore’s Columbus contributions.

When a justice on the Ohio Supreme Court recuses from hearing a case, I am authorized by the Ohio Constitution to appoint a sitting appeals court judge to take his or her place. The visiting judge temporarily serves as a justice to hear oral arguments and vote on a case.

Over the course of Judge Moore’s two terms on the Ninth District, she served as a visiting judge three times on the Supreme Court, hearing four cases.

As with all Ohio Supreme Court visiting judges, Judge Moore’s participation enabled us to have a full complement of a panel of seven to hear the cases at hand.

Judge Moore read all the briefs beforehand, prepared for oral argument, asked questions of the appellant and appellee during oral argument, spoke her piece during our deliberations after oral argument, and voted on the outcome.

Perhaps the case in which Judge Moore participated that you are most familiar with would be State v. Noling.

Orally argued on May 31, this case centered on post-conviction DNA testing for capital defendants. At issue was Tyrone Noling’s contention that the appeals process was unconstitutional. As you likely know, Noling was convicted of the 1990 murders of an elderly couple, Bearnhardt and Cora Hartig, in their Portage County home.

On Dec. 21, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that part of the state law that limits the appeals of capital offenders seeking DNA testing after a conviction is unconstitutional. All of the justices agreed that the statute was unconstitutional, but we differed on which remedy was proper.

In a 4-3 opinion that I wrote, the Ohio Supreme Court decided that the statute violates constitutional rights to equal protection because it creates a different appellate process for capital and noncapital offenders by giving offenders sentenced to death only the possibility, rather than the right, to have their appeal heard. We held that the statute has no rational basis for this distinction.

To fix the unconstitutional provision, we severed part of the statute, and the law now gives eligible capital offenders an appeal of right to the Ohio Supreme Court when challenging a trial court’s denial of a request for post-conviction DNA testing.

With this ruling, Noling is entitled to have his post-conviction DNA testing appeal heard by the Ohio Supreme Court. The Ohio Supreme Court gave Noling 45 days – from Dec. 21 – to file a brief arguing the merits of his case

Judge Moore – sitting in place of Justice William M. O’Neill – was a member of the majority. I was happy to have her company in the deliberation room and on the opinion.

The other cases Judge Moore heard while sitting temporarily on the Ohio Supreme Court were in 2011 and 2006. Her insights on each of these cases were instrumental in the Court reaching fair and just decisions.

Significantly, Judge Moore’s 2011 visiting judge assignment made history.

For the first time, the Ohio Supreme Court had two African American panel members hearing a case. Justice Yvette McGee Brown was a member of the court at that time.

To her credit, Judge Moore was so engrossed in reading the oral argument briefs that she had not stopped to think about the composition of the panel.

This fact should surprise no one in the room, as Judge Moore possesses a well-earned reputation for throwing herself into any task that lay before her. She also embodies a trait that all good judges have: staying focused on her constitutional duties and her docket rather than her press clippings. I commend her for that.

Thank you for inviting me to share in this celebratory occasion. Thank you, Judge Moore, for your 27 years of service on the Akron Municipal Court, the Ninth District Court of Appeals, and, at least temporarily, on the Ohio Supreme Court. I wish you the best in retirement. God bless.