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Justice Speeches

Court Management Program Graduation
Retired Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
August 12, 2022


You have taken a big step in your professional journey … and your achievement has earned you the certification you will receive in just a few minutes.

First, I want to thank and praise you for your commitment to professional development.

And I want to thank the judges that made the commitment for you to be here. Without their recognition of the value of this program, it could not be successful.

And thank you to your colleagues your court who made sure things ran smoothly at the court while you participated in the program.

Finally, to your families, they share the pride today, but don’t forget to thank them for giving you the room to grow. I thank you all.

Ensuring the effective administration of justice is a responsibility we share at every level of the justice system.

Many of you have worked your way up. And you’ve shown yourself to be an achiever, otherwise you would not have been selected for this program.  Only one third of the people who applied were selected.

And your success is mounting. During the three years of the program, four of your class have earned promotions and one was elected to a new position.

Five have received professional awards and one has been invited to sit on the board of community organizations.

Initially you committed to three years toward improving yourself. You put in the time and the work. You are among the elite who have cleared a high bar. And you did it in the ever-changing environment of a pandemic.

I want you to leave here with a respect for the position you assume. To leave with an understanding of the great responsibility you have taken on. You are not just a manager at your court. You are now someone who is trained at a level that allows you to share your education, skills, and experience with your colleagues and with other administrators in other courts to increase the quality of the administration of justice overall.

Access to Colleagues is a valuable resource.

The directory you receive at the end of the program is like a yearbook. It connects you with your cohort. Reach out occasionally. See how they’re doing. See what great ideas they have innovated that can benefit your court.

And when you face a tough problem, a challenge -- you are not alone.

Through them, and through the Judicial College, you are connected to like-minded professionals and resources to keep you sharp and constantly growing in the best judicial system in the world.

With your additional training in case flow and personnel management, financial and performance tools and measurement, and technology, you enhance your value to your court and become a resource for others.

The technology is an important piece. You have seen the difference it can make through the pandemic. Yet, throughout my career I have seen people almost paralyzed by the thought of technology.

In 2015, I set $3 million dollars aside from the supreme court budget and created the technology grants to local courts.

In 7 years, we have invested a total of almost $35 million in helping courts across Ohio improve efficiencies and access because of technology.

Back in 2015, I didn’t know there was going to be a global pandemic. But I did know a court that keeps pace with the times can conduct itself more efficiently and serve the public better.

We have learned a few happy lessons during the pandemic. Like text alerts to defendants to remind them they’re to be in court, significantly reduces missed court appearances.

I hope you have no fear and will continue to advocate for your court to have a technology plan, and to stay current with technology to enhance your operations and service to the public.

I have been a magistrate, a common pleas judge, and a supreme court justice, and for the past 12 years, chief justice. I have seen it all.

And I have seen you do it all. Often without notice by others.

We know that the demands on you are high. I know this system could not run without you.

I believe in the program so strongly; we support participation by members of the Supreme Court of Ohio staff.

I want to recognize Christine Kidd, Kyana Pierson, and Doug Nelson, among our exemplary employees and your classmates.

Whether a clerk, a probation officer, an administrator, you serve the public.

And the public is not always easy.

But people come to the courthouse for help. When they do, they are at their lowest moment and most in need of respect, humanity, and compassion.

They may be doing the best they can.

Remember that to them, you are the court system.

And the entire reputation of the system rests with how they are treated and how their problem is addressed in your office.

Likewise, I am never prouder than when I see someone respond to a difficult litigant with compassion, understanding, an open mind to the differences between people and how that may impact their circumstances. The outcome may not be what they desired, but it costs us nothing to treat each person with respect. And what it gains for the reputation we share is immeasurable.

Demonstrate for each citizen you encounter, why they should have faith and confidence in you and the judiciary.

The judiciary is the anchor in American society. Your community is counting on you to provide access and maintain order in the system. Citizens have confidence that the law is dependable. Precedent guides us. And the Rule of Law must reign supreme.

Given the culture today, it’s safe to say there never has been a time when professionalism and confidence in the law … the Rule of Law … has been as important.

You set the reputation for us all.

You are exemplary and educated court professionals. But this is just the beginning.

Continue to grow and learn every day.

And for the reputation of the justice system in Ohio, Be the ideal. We are counting on you.

God Bless.

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