(WKBN) – First News is “Your Local Election Headquarters.” Tonight, we bring you part two of our series showcasing Supreme Court of Ohio justice candidates.
This year is the first non-primary election that will designate a political party of judges on the ballot.
Incumbent Republican Justice Pat Fischer is in a race against Democratic candidate and 10th District Court of Appeals Judge Terri Jamison.
By law, judges are not allowed to publically discuss cases that could come before them, especially controversial topics like abortion. Instead, we asked questions about ways to improve the judiciary and ensure fairness in courtrooms.
Jamison is originally from West Virginia. She is a third-generation coal miner who moved to Ohio after being laid off. She started her own business then eventually went to law school and worked in the public defender’s office before becoming a judge.
Fischer, a Cincinnati native, has practiced law for 30 years — graduating from Harvard Law. He was previously a 1st District Court of Appeals judge.
Both have ideas on how to make sure courts are fair.
“I am in favor of the criminal sentencing database that is currently a volunteer project. I would definitely see a need for that to continue specifically because there was a study on racial fairness,” Jamison said.
A criminal sentencing database keeps track of sentencing for offenders and allows for comparison on many criteria — like age, race, gender and socioeconomic status — and compares offenders’ sentences amongst different judges.
“I’m also in favor of having a civil damages database to see if men and women that are in lower socioeconomic or minority status are receiving lower judgment offers or damage offers from accidents and injuries,” Jamison said.
Fischer says making courts more efficient to ensure the constitutional right to a speedy trial is an issue he’s concerned about.
“I think the court’s too slow. If you know what a motion for jurisdiction is, that’s to take the case in, like in the U.S. Supreme Court motion for certiorari. When I got to the court, it was 120 to 125 days before we rule on that. I’ve gotten it down to 70 to 75 days from the last report I saw,” Fischer said.
Fischer says grievances filed against attorneys with the state bar were also taking too long.
“It used to take 900 days from when they called the bar association when we would issue an opinion. I got to the point, me as a liaison, to a task force that made 30 some changes… I think it’s probably cut it by 200 or 300 days,” Fischer said.