Speeches

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
Ohio Courts of Appeals Judges Association (OCAJA) Fall Meeting Luncheon
Aug. 30, 2017

Good afternoon, everyone.

I’d like to start with an unexpected task – giving you an update on Judge Joseph Bruzzese.

He is doing well.

The fact that Judge Bruzzese survived this cowardly assault is a source of joy to us, while the act itself was reprehensible.

The theme for our conference this week is “Adapting Justice to a Dynamic Society” and, yes, sadly, this type of occurrence is part of our society’s dynamic.

On a positive note, I would like to thank the O-C-A-J-A for inviting me today and allowing me the honor to swear in your new officers.

Before doing so I want to recognize Judge Donna Carr, who is “graduating” at the end of December from Chief to become Past Chief Judge. Judge Carr, thank you for your service and wise counsel.

So, I would like to recognize the 2018 Officers and invite them up.

 

OATH OF OFFICE

I [state your name] do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States, Constitution of the State of Ohio and the Constitution and By-Laws of the Ohio Courts of Appeals Judges Association, and that I will faithfully perform all the duties incumbent upon me in the office of ______________________, to which I have been elected.
So help me God.

 

Congratulations!

As you know, I will deliver the State of the Judiciary address tomorrow.

I will talk about several long-term problems we face as a society and judiciary.

Our patchwork system of fines, fees and bail is great need of reform. We have been making progress on that front, while so much more needs to be done.

A big part of our task is convincing our colleagues in the local and state government that the courts are designed to dispense justice and not act as an ATM for governments.

I also will note our opioid crisis and our efforts to link the judiciaries, state and local governments and law enforcement in neighboring states, along with federal agencies and care agencies, to fight this problem and help its victims and their families.

Additional federal and state funding is on the way and we are working with our government colleagues on how programs can be expanded and coordinated.

There’s no question that the judiciary is a key bridge among all the parties in this effort.

Also, as you know, the Supreme Court no longer will hear automatic appeals from Board of Tax Appeals. This change was signed into law this summer by Governor Kasich.

According to the budget bill’s amended R.C. 5717.04, BTA cases that are appealed would go to one of the 12 district courts of appeals.

Should the losing party of a district court decision seek an appeal the case would go for consideration to the Supreme Court. And we would accept the appeal for cases involving “a substantial constitutional question or a question of great general or public interest.”

An analysis of BTA Supreme Court case filings found that many tax appeals do not have broad implications and are ordinary disputes over appraisals about property values.

Our Ohio Judicial College plans to offer an education program on tax law at the February association conference. 

Finally, considering all of these responsibilities and drawing on this week’s theme, “Adapting Justice to a Dynamic Society,” I will talk to the conference about ideas for a workload study that can show the public and our friends in state government how our lives as judges are changing.

At no time in the history of America’s state courts have we faced so many new challenges, new opportunities – and, yes, even new threats.

The timeworn responsibilities – like tax appeals – are still there. Yet new challenges – on our time, our scholarship and judgment – have presented themselves. The opioid problem is just one large one. I will talk about many others.

And yet we have no instrument at our disposal – no way to prove with data the extent of your work and responsibilities – to show our fellow citizens just what we do on their behalf.

Creating a workload instrument is an open question. I value your input and guidance. And I will act on that.

But I believe strongly that presenting this idea to you is a duty of mine. Thirty-seven states have conducted these studies and all have benefitted from the exercise.

With that I will allow you to continue your meeting. I want to thank you for this opportunity to swear in your new class and to speak with you.

God bless.