May 4, 2007
Columbus Bar hosts conference on bar associations and the judiciary
~ written by Nelson E Genshaft
Representatives of the major bar associations in the State and the Ohio State Bar Association met on Thursday, April 27, at the Columbus Bar to discuss the role of bar associations and the judiciary in Ohio. Columbus Bar President Belinda Barnes chaired the meeting, which covered topics like the role of screening candidates for judicial office, running performance polls on sitting judges and evaluating campaign advertising by judges. The Cleveland and Cuyahoga Bars discussed their Judge4Yourself program in which five local bar associations in Cleveland have jointly evaluated candidates and published their results both online and in print. The program has received wide public and editorial support as a public educational initiative, especially in judicial elections where the public often has little idea on the qualifications of judges on the ballot.
Judge Charles Schneider of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas reported on the recent report of the Task Force on Law Library Associations, which he chairs. This Task Force has made important recommendations on the funding and governance of county law libraries for consideration in the current budget bill before the Ohio legislature. Ken Cookson discussed the Columbus Bar’s Judicial Campaign Advertising initiative. Although the program is 18 years old it remains unique in Ohio.
Chief Justice Tom Moyer of the Ohio Supreme Court spoke about his recent testimony before the Ohio legislature, where he covered topics like “right sizing” the number of judges in a county and judge’s salaries. The Chief Justice then answered questions from the group on various issues like the biennial registration fee for lawyers and the role of the Supreme Court as IT consultants to the various common pleas courts in the State.
The meeting ended with a discussion about the role of bar associations in defending judges under attack, mainly for decisions they have issued in high-profile or controversial cases. Since judges cannot comment on their decisions and have limited options to respond to attacks against them, there is a role for bar associations to educate the public on the issues.