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The Lantern - "Two Supreme Court Races; Four Vying for Posts"

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Location: Columbus, OH

The Lantern - "Two Supreme Court Races; Four Vying for Posts"

With two seats in Ohio's highest court up for grabs, four candidates are competing in a double race for the bench, a race which will be decided with the Nov. 5 election.

Judge Tim Black and Lt. Gov. Maureen O'Connor are running for an open seat on the Ohio Supreme Court, while Judge Janet Burnside has challenged incumbent justice Evelyn Stratton.

Black v. O'Connor

Getting people to vote is one of the toughest obstacles Ohio Supreme Court candidates must overcome.

About 25 percent of voters who go into the polling booth do not cast their vote when they come to the Supreme Court candidates. These people do not vote because either they do not know who the candidates are or they do not feel educated enough about the Supreme Court to cast their vote, said Amy Sabath, campaign manager for Lt. Gov. Maureen O'Connor.

"We are really trying to educate people on the importance of the Supreme Court and how it affects the daily lives of every citizen in Ohio," Sabath said.

Both candidates have extensive backgrounds in the area of law.

Tim Black graduated from Harvard and is a third-generation judge. He has served as a judge of the Hamilton County Municipal Court since his election in 1993.

"In 1999 I was the top-rated judge on the Hamilton County ballot in all categories including integrity, independence and legal ability, per the Cincinnati Bar Association's national survey," Black said.

O'Connor graduated from Seton Hill College in Greensburg, Pa., and received her law degree from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. She has served as a probate court magistrate and a Summit County prosecutor and is lieutenant governor of Ohio.

"In more than two decades of legal practice, I've seen the law from many perspectives: criminal and civil, prosecution and defense, and public and private practice," O'Connor said.

In 2000, Black ran for the Supreme Court and lost. He believes strongly in the judicial system.

"I've known from day one that the reason the judge is there is to keep the playing field even and to make sure neither side gets a leg up simply because of who they are or how many resources they have," Black said. "I want to bring my proven passion for fundamental fairness to the state's highest court."

O'Connor's goal, if she is elected, is to accomplish the duties of a justice of the court.

"I believe in the philosophy of judicial restraint and that the role of a justice is to apply the law to the facts of a case presented to them," O'Connor said. "It is not the role of a justice to legislate from the bench â€" that is the role of the legislature."

Black believes his experience is why he should be elected.

"Although my opponent is the lieutenant governor, her experience is limited, and she has never had a single judicial decision published by the Ohio Supreme Court," Black said.

O'Connor disagrees with Black.

"My decades of judicial experience combined with my service as lieutenant governor and Summit County prosecutor uniquely prepares me for this important position," O'Connor said. "My judicial and administrative experience prepares me to provide opinions based solely on the law, not a philosophical agenda."

Black wants the Supreme Court justices to be judges, not politicians.

"We need to keep the Ohio Supreme Court fair and independent," Black said. "I will do that, just as I have in my local court for nine years."


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