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Public Statements

Justice Maureen O'Connor

Statement

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Justice Maureen O'Connor was born in the nation's capital but raised in Strongsville and Parma. Her election in 2002 as the 148th justice on the Supreme Court of Ohio is the latest achievement in a long career of public service.

While gaining experience in practice as an attorney during the early 1980s, Justice O'Connor created a home for her family and her legal career in northeast Ohio. Appointed as a magistrate in Summit County in 1985, she served in that capacity until she became a common pleas court judge in 1993. As a busy trial judge, Justice O'Connor was selected by her peers to serve as the administrative judge — a testament to her ability to build coalitions and maintain collegiality while administering to the business of the courts.

But Justice O'Connor felt compelled to return to work on the front lines of protecting the public. She became the Summit County prosecuting attorney in 1995, aggressively prosecuting repeat offenders, violent criminals and public officials who committed ethical violations or improprieties. She was recognized for her work on behalf of victims, and remains proud of awards bestowed on her by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Cleveland State University. As prosecutor, Justice O'Connor also lobbied the General Assembly for tougher rape laws and mandatory jail time for gang-related offences. Successful in her undertakings, she set her sights on more difficult challenges.

In 1998, the people of Ohio elected Justice O'Connor as their lieutenant governor — the second-highest official in the state. She quickly became the governor's chief advisor on criminal justice issues, serving as Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, and as chair of Ohio's Security Task Force and the State Building Security Review Committee. Her experiences in law enforcement proved invaluable, particularly in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks when she led the state in its response to new threats of terrorism. Her leadership in this area garnered the attention and the praise of the country's first homeland security advisor, Tom Ridge.
Since her election to the Supreme Court of Ohio, Justice O'Connor has continued to work for justice. In addition to her responsibilities hearing the array of cases presented to the Court, Justice O'Connor devotes herself to educational initiatives for Ohio's students and to matters of security, such as the new Advisory Committee on Court Security and Emergency Preparedness, which she chairs.

LEGAL EXPERIENCE

Justice, Supreme Court of Ohio
Elected in November 2002 and began term January 2003.
Prosecuting Attorney, Summit County
Served from 1995 to 1999.
Judge, Summit County Court of Common Pleas
Served from 1993 to 1995 and elected by her peers to serve as Administrative Judge.
Magistrate, Summit County Probate Court
Appointed in 1985 and served until 1993.
Attorney, private practice of law
Practiced from 1981 to 1985 and handled both criminal and civil cases.

STATEWIDE PUBLIC SERVICE

Lieutenant Governor and Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, State of Ohio
As lieutenant governor from 1999 to 2003, O'Connor also chaired the State of Ohio Security Task Force and the State Building Security Review Committee.

HONORS AND AWARDS

* MADD Law Enforcement Award, Summit County, Ohio, 1997.
* Cleveland State University Distinguished Alumnae Award for Civic Achievement, 1997.
* Commencement Speaker for Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, 1999.
* Commencement Speaker for Seton Hill College, May, 2001.

EDUCATION

Bachelor of Arts, Seton Hill College, 1973.
Juris Doctor, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, 1980.

PERSONAL

Born: Aug. 7, 1951 in Washington, D.C. and raised in Strongsville, Ohio and Parma, Ohio.
Member: St. Ann's Parish, Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
Children: Alex and Ed.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Justice Maureen O'Connor
Supreme Court of Ohio
65 South Front Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215-3431
Tel: 614.387.9060


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