In selecting a judge for Ohio's 11th District Court of Appeals, Republican voters in Trumbull, Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Portage counties would be well advised to cast their ballot for Colleen Mary O'Toole, one of the three GOP candidates, on the May 7 primary ballot.
In the Ohio judicial system, there are 12 appellate courts with a total of 66 judges, whose jobs is to review judgments from common pleas, municipal and county courts as well as appeals from the board of tax appeals.
Although citizens themselves don't come before an appeals court, their attorneys bring cases there if they believe an error was committed by a judge in a lower court. Thus, appeals court judges must be experts in constitutional law and should have experience with both civil and criminal law. Further, because the product of the appellate court is a written opinion that may apply to other cases within the court's jurisdiction, appeals court judges must also have skills in legal research and writing.
After interviewing two of the Republican primary candidates for the 11th District Court of Appeals -- a third, Atty. Tracy K. O'Day chose not to meet with the editorial board -- we believe that O'Toole has a greater breadth of experience and a more dynamic approach to the work of the court than Mark J. Hassett, a Chagrin Falls attorney.
Hassett, who has been in practice for more than 25 years, says that while the bulk of the cases he handles are in civil law, he considers himself "a jack of all trades."
Now an attorney in a practice that includes civil, criminal, corporate litigation and family law,O'Toole has a background that comprises federal civil rights cases, employment law, housing discrimination and lead paint cases, as well serving for five years with the Cuyahoga County Public Defender's Office.
In addition, O'Toole's significant appellate work should make for a smooth transition from attorney to judge should she be elected in November. Democrat Cynthia Rice is unopposed in the primary.