September 24, 2020

Columbus Bar Association Statement Regarding the Independence of the Judiciary

As President of the Columbus Bar Association, I feel compelled to speak out against two recent attacks on judicial integrity in Franklin County.

Last week, a public statement was issued that inappropriately labeled a decision issued by Judge Richard Frye as an “obstruction of his judicial responsibility.” The statement went on to accuse Judge Frye of partisan motivation in rendering the decision. This was followed by a news report suggesting that Franklin County Judge Ted Barrows’ decision to release a suspect on a recognizance bond was an abuse of his authority. These two incidents improperly portend an erosion of the independence of our judiciary, where politics undermine judicial integrity.

Late last week, Ohio Chief Justice, Maureen O’Connor, issued an important statement strongly criticizing attacks on the judicial integrity of Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye. The Chief Justice’s statement began: “I condemn in the strongest possible terms both the statement … and its unsigned authors.” The Chief Justice went on to encourage Ohio’s judges and magistrates to “voice their dismay at the irresponsible … allegation that politics controlled the judge’s decision. This is a blatant and unfounded attack on the independence of the Ohio judiciary.” Chief Justice O’Connor called the comments in the statement “disgraceful” and “deceitful.”

The Columbus Bar Association joins the many voices which have vigorously supported the Chief Justice’s comments regarding this matter. Our judicial system’s credibility relies on public confidence in its fair and evenhanded administration of the rule of law. Partisan forces, of any stripe, must not be permitted to undermine public confidence in the justice system through false accusations which unfairly and improperly attack the independence and integrity of our judges.



Robert D. Erney
President, Columbus Bar Association

Our judicial system’s credibility relies on public confidence in its fair and evenhanded administration of the rule of law.

Partisan forces, of any stripe, must not be permitted to undermine public confidence in the justice system through false accusations which unfairly and improperly attack the independence and integrity of our judges.