Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
New Magistrate Orientation
March 7, 2018

(Remarks prepared for delivery on Wednesday March 7, 2018, at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center)

Thank you Christy for that introduction.

I want to welcome you to the Ohio Supreme Court as you start your professional journey as a magistrate.

 I know what you are going through because I’ve been in your shoes.

 As a former probate court magistrate, I know the challenges of scheduling hearings, managing cases, and writing opinions.

You did not get this job by accident.

You are in this position because a judge found you knowledgeable about the law and trustworthy in your decision-making ability.

Magistrates and judges have a lot in common in how we do our jobs---day in and day out.

We must dispense justice faithfully and impartially to ensure that all litigants and interested parties know that that we listened thoroughly to their cases.

Over the next few days, your work will focus on making this transition from the bar to the bench.

 I’d like to highlight some of the new sessions the Judicial College is offering you.

There will be training on case management and establishing your judicial presence in the courtroom. This is intended to help new magistrates learn best practices in courtroom demeanor and control.

This is a reverse mock trial where there will be a simulated hearing and a discussion on how to establish rules in the courtroom, lessons learned from experienced judicial officers, and how the magistrate handled her or himself.

 What’s the goal here?

To take this information and apply it the next day during trial practice exercises.

Additionally, there are more online courses available for you.

The Judicial College now has 20 online courses designed just for you, including:

There are also several courses on domestic violence, for those of you who are family law magistrates.

These courses can be viewed for free at any time and of course more than once.

 Please take advantage of the resources the Supreme Court offers through the Judicial College, the Office of Judicial and Education Services, and the Office of Court Services.

Our goal is a simple, yet noble one.

We are here to serve the judiciary ... of which you are now a member.

Ohio has approximately 800 magistrates to assist in the workload of our courts.

The work is rewarding. I often say, we help people who cannot help themselves.  We solve problems that they cannot solve themselves.  It they could they wouldn’t need us.

What does a party have a right to expect from you?

First and foremost, respect.  No matter whether represented by counsel or pro se, the party needs to know that you respect them and their position…even if they are legally wrong.

They have the right to expect professionalism and competency.

Speaking of pro se, if you become easily frustrated or have no patience, you probably need to seriously reexamine what you’re doing here.

Pro se litigants can be some of the most trying of all litigants.  Or sometimes, their lack of legal knowledge can help you to put their problem into perspective.

Maybe sometimes the best solution isn’t the “legal’ solution, but rather a compromise.  A solution that you’ve been able to fashion because you listened, you instilled some level of trust from the parties, and the proposed solution will make sense, save time and money…and just as important allow people to move on.

Not every case has to be a battle.  It’s your job to see to that.

As you transition from the bar to the bench, your life will change.  But hopefully, not so much as to change you. 

Remember to stay professionally active, active in your community and focused on friends and family.

Thank you once again, God Bless, and good luck.