Oral Arguments Before the Master Commissioner
Master Commissioners are responsible for assisting the Justices of the court in researching complex legal issues and preparing written analyses of those issues for review by the court, particularly in matters involving workers' compensation, public utilities, taxation, death penalty, attorney discipline and extraordinary writs. They also assist the Chief Justice in performing the duties conferred by Section 5 (C), Article IV, of the Ohio Constitution in ruling upon affidavits of disqualification filed against judges statewide.
Under Supreme Court Practice Rule 17.07(A)(1), “[a]ppeals from the Board of Tax Appeals filed with the Supreme Court before Sept. 29, 2017, shall be referred to a regular or special master commissioner for oral argument unless the parties waive the argument or the Supreme Court, sua sponte or upon motion, decides to hear the argument itself.”
Oral Argument Audio Archive (2005 to Present)
Procedure and Guidelines
Appeals to the Supreme Court from the Board of Tax Appeals are regularly referred to the Master Commissioner for oral argument pursuant to S.Ct.Prac. R. 17.07. Under this procedure, the parties present their oral argument to the Master Commissioner rather than directly to the Justices of the court.
Although the Master Commissioner hears the argument in such cases, it is the Justices who decide the case in conference, and their decision is made based upon the briefs, the record, and the additional analysis furnished to the court by the Master Commissioner.
In general, litigants who argue before the Master Commissioner should read and follow the guidelines set forth in the Guide for Counsel Presenting Oral Arguments Before the Supreme Court, which is available on the Supreme Court’s website. Argument is restricted to 15 minutes per side; the timer indicates two minutes remaining with a white light and the red light indicates that time has expired. The appellant may reserve time for rebuttal if circumstances allow. Counsel are also requested to observe the following:
- Oral arguments before the Master Commissioner are no less formal proceedings than arguments before the full court. The session is opened by the marshal, and persons in attendance are called upon to stand as the Master Commissioner takes the bench, and again as the Master Commissioner leaves the bench.
- Counsel or pro-se litigants may address the bench as “Master Commissioner” or “Your Honor,” based on personal preference.
- Counsel or pro-se litigants shall respond to questions from the bench directly, concisely, and courteously.
- As a general rule, counsel and pro-se litigants should be guided by the principle that any conduct that would be inappropriate in an argument before the Justices is inappropriate in an argument before the Master Commissioner.
Supreme Court of Ohio
65 South Front Street, 8th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215-3431
Elisabeth Long, Esq.