Speeches

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) Banquet
July 18, 2017

Thank you Judge (Kathryn) Tennyson (Multnomah County Oregon Circuit Court and outgoing NCJFCJ president) for that introduction and for your leadership of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges over the past year.

Ohio is blessed to have many outstanding members of the judiciary, two of whom serve in leadership positions with NCJFCJ.

We are grateful for Lucas County Juvenile Court Judge Denise Navarre Cubbon’s innovative and collaborative approaches to juvenile justice, including leading the way on juvenile incarceration reform, her chairmanship of the state’s child victims of human trafficking workgroup, and for forming multidisciplinary partnerships to improve educational outcome for youths in foster care.

The other judge from Ohio is the star of this week’s 80th annual conference: Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Anthony Capizzi, (NCJFCJ President-Elect) who in a few moments will take over the presidency of the NCJFC.

I have the pleasure once again, just as I did four years ago with retired Stark County Family Court Judge David Stucki, to administer the oath of office and say a few words about the incoming president from Ohio.

In today’s world, we too often seek and expect quick and easy solutions. The very best judges, however, recognize that the quality of justice they administer is infinitely more important than the quantity of justice they dispense.

As Chief Justice, I can say without reservation that the judiciary and citizenry of our state, most especially our youth and their families, are fortunate recipients of Judge Capizzi’s devotion to the law and his diligence in confronting many of our society’s most vexing problems.

He has that same devotion to improving courts around the nation as they work to improve the lives of the youth that come before them. Tony represents what is most vital, most needed, in a judge today: a person of high integrity, appropriate temperament, and an unwavering commitment to justice.

As just one example, Judge Capizzi has led significant reforms in his court and has expanded programs designed to not only address juvenile misconduct, but also the root causes of that misconduct.

Montgomery County, Ohio, has the dubious distinction of being near the very top of per capita drug deaths last year and this year among America’s 3,100 counties. Juveniles are a part of this grim reality.

Despite these unimaginable challenges, Judge Capizzi has not been deterred in confronting the impact of this problem on youth in his community. In designing his juvenile treatment court, Judge Capizzi specifically chose to include youth who had often failed in other programs.

He did not “cherry pick” the caseload so his program could look good. He constructed a program designed to help the most challenging, difficult, and troubled youth.

Whenever he admits a juvenile to the treatment court program, he begins by showing them pictures of the young people he knows who have died from drug overdoses, some of whom were in the program. He then looks across the bench at the juvenile and says: “I don’t want this to be you. I don’t want to go to your funeral.”

For this reason and many more, congratulations judge as you step into this national leadership role. I look for great things during your time as president, and I wish you good luck.

Thank you and God bless.