Appeals court judge from Valley seeks seat on Ohio Supreme Court

By David Skolnick


Judge Cynthia Rice of the Warren-based 11th District Court of Appeals and a Brookfield resident will file in the Democratic primary for a vacant seat on the Ohio Supreme Court.

“If you want a court not based on politics, but based on experience, she is in many ways the perfect candidate,” Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said of Judge Rice.

She worked as an assistant prosecutor in Trumbull County from 1991 to 1999 as the chief counsel for the drug prosecution unit, criminal administrator and first assistant criminal division prosecutor. She was also an assistant U.S. attorney from 1999 to 2001, based in Youngstown. She was elected to the 11th District Court of Appeals in November 2002 and re-elected twice.

“I have more experience practicing criminal law than anyone else currently on the Supreme Court,” Judge Rice said. “I feel I could add a strength to the bench.”

The party will endorse early next year, but Judge Rice was recruited to run and is the only announced candidate for seat being vacated at the end of next year by Justice Paul Pfeifer, retiring because of the state’s age restrictions on judges.

The Ohio Republican Party has endorsed Judge Pat DeWine of the 1st District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati for the seat.

“The difference between the two couldn’t be clearer: She’s a prosecutor and not a politician,” said Kirstin Alvanitakis, Ohio Democratic Party spokeswoman. “This is the sixth different office” DeWine has sought in the past 15 years. “The Supreme Court shouldn’t be a place for political lackeys. It should be a place for serious jurists.”

Judge DeWine, the son of Attorney General Mike DeWine, is a former Cincinnati councilman, Hamilton County commissioner and county common pleas court judge who unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. House in 2006. He’s served on the 1st District Court of Appeals since 2013.

“Clearly, the Ohio Democratic Party forgot to review Judge DeWine’s resume before making their remarks because their spin on him is simply not true,” said Brittany Warner, Ohio Republican Party spokeswoman. “Judge DeWine has a diverse legal background” that includes teaching law at the University of Cincinnati Law School, and he worked for 13 years at one of southwest Ohio’s largest law firms.

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