On Wednesday, February 5, incumbents and challengers wishing to place their names on the 2014 ballot for seats on Ohio’s courts filed candidacy petitions with Boards of Elections across the state. Below, is a compilation of the petitions that were filed and the matchups for the 2014 judicial races as well as some background information and commentary regarding races of particular significance.
The November 2014 ballot will include races for seats on the Supreme Court of Ohio, Courts of Appeals and Courts of Common Pleas. The Ohio Constitution provides that judges serve for a term of six years. The number of terms they may serve are unlimited; however, no person may be elected or appointed to a judicial office once they reach age 70. 1
Supreme Court of Ohio
Incumbent: Sharon L. Kennedy (R) Challenger: Tom Letson (D)
Incumbent: Judith L. French (R) Challenger: John P. O’Donnell (D)
Two incumbent justices are up for re-election in 2014. Justice Judith L. French was appointed to her seat by Gov. John Kasich following the retirement of former Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, who retired January 1, 2013. Justice Sharon L. Kennedy was elected to her seat to complete an unexpired term ending December 31, 2014.
Filing as challengers for these two seats are State Representative Tom Letson (D-Warren) against Justice Kennedy and Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge John P. O’Donnell against Justice French. Judge O’Donnell has served on the Court of Common Pleas since 2002 and is of no relation to sitting Justice Terrence O’Donnell. Representative Letson is in his fourth term as a state legislator and is not eligible to run for another term due to term limits.
Courts of Appeals
Ohio’s courts of appeals are comprised of between four and 12 judges, depending on the size of the district and the caseload of the court. Of the 69 judges currently on the bench, 23 seats will be up for election in November.
The 10th District Court of Appeals in Columbus will be particularly interesting to watch as incumbents face off against high-profile challengers. Former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has filed to run for an unexpired term ending in 2016, challenging the incumbent Judge Amy C. O’Grady who was appointed to the seat.
A former employee at the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, Judge Betsy Luper Schuster was appointed to the 10th District Court of Appeals by Gov. John Kasich January 21, 2014. She has filed to retain that seat in the November election and is facing a challenge from former Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy.
Other races in the 10th District include Jeffrey D. Mackey, a local attorney practicing estate planning, probate and real estate law at Fusck, Mackey, Mathews & Gill, challenging incumbent Judge Lisa L. Sadler. Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Timothy S. Horton and Patrick W. Beatty are vying to fill the seat vacated by departing Judge John A. Connor.
In the 8th District in Cuyahoga County, Judge Sean Gallagher will run unopposed, as will Judges Larry Jones and Patricia Blackmon. The seat being vacated by retiring Judge Kenneth Rocco, who has been a judge for 32 years, will see a Democratic primary between Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Anita Laster Mays and Common Pleas Judge Brian J. Corrigan. Judge Corrigan has been on the Court of Common Pleas since 1993 and Judge Mays currently presides over the Greater Cleveland Drug Court.
In Hamilton County, 1st District Judge Lee Hildebrandt is stepping down from the bench and Fanon Rucker and Russell Mock will run for his seat.
Match ups in all of the court of appeals races are as follows:
Click here to view the list.