Maureen O’Connor, chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, is following in the big footsteps of her predecessor, the late Thomas Moyer. While she is not proposing election reforms in the two areas that Moyer felt strongest about, she shares his concern about maintaining the integrity of courts across Ohio and his interest in educating Ohioans about how the courts work and how judges are elected. This leadership is welcome. The eight changes O’Connor proposed last week should start an important conversation across the state.
Speaking Thursday to the Ohio State Bar Association, she unveiled these ideas:
• Hold nonpartisan primary elections for judges.
• Increase the basic qualifications for judges to better reflect the court on which they serve.
• Increase judges’ terms from six years to between eight and 12 years, depending on the court.
• Move judicial races to odd-numbered years to give them more attention.
• Allow the Ohio Senate to weigh in on Supreme Court appointments.
• Establish a formal, nonpartisan system for recommending nominees to the governor for judicial vacancies.
• Move judicial races higher on the ballot to increase voter participation.
• Centralize and expand resources for educating voters about the courts, including putting cameras in more courtrooms.