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Hamilton County, OH November 7, 2006 Election
Smart Voter

This Election is Not for a Trial Judge's Job

By James T. "Jim" O'Reilly

Candidate for Judge; Ohio State Court of Appeals; District 1; 6 Year Term Starting 2/10/07

This information is provided by the candidate
Understanding what appeals court judges do will be helpful to making an informed choice. The job is quite different from what trial judges do, so performance in trials isn't the basis for appeals court success.

Judge Judy fans wouldn't like this job + the appeals court judge role is definitely NOT the same as the trial court judgeship. A basketball referee's quick whistle is like a trial judge's gavel + there is a need to rapidly manage a trial so that the jury decision is correctly made. Sometimes errors are made and appeals are taken to the Court of Appeals. Then the different skill set is needed + the appeals court judge must be capable of careful evaluation of how the facts of this case fit into our constitution and our very detailed Ohio statutes. The closest set of comparable skills are those of law professors like me: we examine complex laws, debate how they are applied, and teach our students how to make persuasive appeal arguments to federal and state appeals courts. We love the law and it shows + and these are the skills that the job of appeals court judge will demand.

What do the Ohio Supreme Court's Chief Justice and the last 3 U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justices have in common? They were NOT trial judges before beginning their careers deciding appeals cases. They have the skills that law professors develop, learning how the policies and terms of the laws fit together with facts that lower courts have compiled. It's very wrong to assume these appeals judges were worse because they lacked some trial judge experience.

How does the appeals court work? After a delay of many months, two lawyers stand before the three judges of the court panel, and for 15 minutes, each tells the judges why the lower court decision should be affirmed or should be sent back to the lower court in order to correct errors. Each side files a written statement of their argument about how statutes, the Constitution and prior court decisions should be interpreted in deciding the appeal. For some, it would be boring and tedious work to decide these arguments. For me, it is a natural extension of what I have done for 25 years in preparing my law students to win appeals court cases.

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