4 judges vie for two empty Ohio Supreme Court Justice seats

By Graig Graziosi



Four judges from across the state are running in November to fill two open Ohio Supreme Court justice seats.

Judge Craig Baldwin of the 5th District Court of Appeals and Judge Michael Donnelly of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court are seeking the seat for the term that begins Jan. 1, 2019.

Judge Baldwin, of Newark, is a Republican and has served as a judge the past 14 years, first with the Licking County Common Pleas Court and then later on the appellate court.

If elected, Judge Baldwin said he would prioritize efficiency in the courts, specifically “in how cases are meaningfully moved through the system and efficient with the time of everyone connected with the case, litigants, witnesses, jurors and attorneys,” and also in the court’s use of tax dollars, “doing the most with their fiscal budgets.”

Judge Donnelly, of Cleveland, is a Democrat and has served on the common pleas court the past 13 years.

If elected, Judge Donnelly said he would like to see the courts become more transparent, truthful and fair in their decisions to help rebuild the public’s trust in the institution.

“Citizens with lower incomes face significant barriers to accessing our justice system,” Judge Donnelly said. “I believe this has led to a growing belief that justice isn’t for everyone but is only for those who can afford it. This situation threatens to undermine the public’s faith in our justice system and must be addressed.”

Supreme Court Justice Mary DeGenaro and Judge Melody Stewart of the 8th District Court of Appeals are seeking the seat whose term begins Jan. 2, 2019.

Justice DeGenaro, of Poland, is a Republican and is running to retain her current seat on the court. Justice DeGenaro has practiced law since 1986 and has served on the 7th District Court of Appeals headquartered in Youngstown.

If retained, Justice DeGenaro said she would oppose state Issue 1, Ohio’s drug decriminalization bill, and that her priority as a justice would be to improve the access and administration of justice on all courts statewide, educate the public to the work of judges and lawyers and engage in public service.

“I am honored to be serving as a justice ... to be accessible and responsive to the public, to treat them with respect and not as a number as we resolve their cases timely, thoughtfully, fairly and impartially,” Justice DeGenaro said.

Judge Stewart, of Cleveland, is a Democrat and has served as an appellate court judge the past 12 years. She also has worked as a law professor, assistant dean and administrator at several law schools.

If elected, Judge Stewart said her priority would be to “bring about much needed reforms in our judicial system to make it more accessible, more efficient, more accountable and more responsive to the people it serves.”

Judge Stewart said her combination of judicial experience, paired with her diverse background in law and legal education, would make her a well-rounded Supreme Court justice.

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