Speeches

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
Black History Month Celebration 2020
Feb. 10. 2020

(Remarks prepared for delivery on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center)

Thank you, Jeff (Hagler.)

Hello everyone.

Welcome to our beautiful Court – and welcome to our annual celebration.

I’m excited every February when Black History Month comes around – but this year is really special.

It is such an honor for me to introduce another Justice from our court – and not just any Justice.

Justice Melody Stewart is the first African American woman to be elected to our Court.

And that’s not all.

Justice Stewart is an accomplished musician.

In fact, she became a musical talent way before she became a talented lawyer, Judge and a Justice.

Justice Stewart has done a lot of things well.

She’s worked in health care management.  She’s been a law school faculty member and assistant law school dean, and she’s held many other positions of achievement.

She became a judge in 2006 when she was elected to the Eighth District Court of Appeals in Cleveland, and was re-elected twice. Then she was elected to the Supreme Court for a term that began last year.

The foundation for all this hard work and accomplishment was music.

I am as excited as you are to hear her musical story and how it ties in to her work in the Courtroom.

What I can tell you now is that Justice Stewart – a life-long student of the piano -- graduated with a bachelor of music degree from CCM – that world-renown Ohio institution known as the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.

She earned her law degree as a Patricia Roberts Fellow at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

And then she started on her legal journey – but kept music in her mind and at her fingertips.

After all, her name is Melody.

On a personal note, I can tell you that Justice Stewart is a hard-working and innovative jurist.

I appreciate the work she does to prepare for oral arguments here in this Courtroom and the long hours of careful thought she places behind her opinions.

I admire her intellect and her points of view.

You will note on the back of your programs that the 18 African American speakers in this series so far have come from all walks of life.

Their contributions are notable.

Justice Stewart is the third African American from this Court to address Black History Month.

Jeff mentioned Justice Duncan.

Justice Yvette McGee Brown was appointed to the Court as the first African American woman to serve.

Now we will hear from the first African American women to be placed here on this bench by Ohio voters.

“The Harmony of Music and Law” is the title of her address.

So, it is my pleasure to introduce to you, our Black History Month speaker for 2020 – the Honorable Justice Melody J. Stewart.

Justice Stewart ...