Many see a judge as a man or woman sitting on a high perch in a black robe, or as depicted on reality TV. It’s true, judges do have a uniform. They also have an obligation to apply and uphold the law. Now that’s how I think we should picture our judges.
Our federal and state constitutions mandate the separation of powers between the three co-equal branches of government — the legislative, the executive, and the judicial branches. And these constitutions grant very special powers only to judges. Above all, judges are to be impartial decision-makers in the pursuit of justice.
We tend to know a lot about those who run for office in the other two branches of government — our president and our members of congress. But we often don’t know much about our judges.
Because of the important role judges play in our lives, and because we elect judges in Ohio, we need to know about their qualifications, their education and professional experience. While we may not always agree with how judges rule, we should not penalize them for executing the duties of their office. By becoming knowledgeable about judicial candidates, we can make informed choices and place well-qualified jurists on the bench.
So, as you prepare for an election, after you’ve done your homework and made your decisions about which button to push for ballot issues and elected officials from the other branches of government, do the same for the judges.
Take time to learn what happens in the various courts, and study the qualifications and experience of those seeking to be judges. By being informed, you will help insure that competent, fair, and impartial judges will be hearing cases and making decisions that affect all of our lives every day.
Now that’s how I think we should picture our judges.
The Ohio State Bar Association, founded in 1880, is a voluntary association representing approximately 25,000 members of the bench and bar of Ohio as well as nearly 4,000 legal assistants and law students. Through its activities and the activities of its related organizations, the OSBA serves both its members and the public by promoting the highest standards in the practice of law and the administration of justice.