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LWV League of Women Voters of Ohio Education Fund
State of Ohio November 2, 2010 Election
Smart Voter

Mary Jane Trapp
Answers Questions

Candidate for
Judge; Ohio State Supreme Court; 6 Year Term Starting 1/1/11


The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of Ohio and asked of all candidates for this office.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

Questions & Answers

1. How do you define "judicial independence", and how important is it to our judicial system? What measures ensure an independent judiciary?

The framers of our Constitution developed a system of government that would avoid the centralization of power in any one person or institution. The role of the judiciary is judicial review; to follow the rule of law and check abuses of that law by the executive and legislative branches. This concept is not written in the Constitution. It has been developed over time in the common law tradition through case law. Judges do not legislate. They should not create out of whole cloth laws that have been non-existent in the state. Ultimately though, ―judicial independence‖ means that it is the job of the court to be the chief interpreter and arbiter of the Constitution. To ensure an impartial judiciary not influence by political or special interests we must look at proposals for reform which include consideration of public financing, wide distribution of League of Women Voters` informational voter guides, a stronger recusal rule, and increased objective qualifications for judges.

2. Would you recuse yourself if a party before you had made a significant judicial campaign expenditure toward your election? Please explain.

I would recuse myself when there is a ―serious and objective risk of actual bias‖ that arises when a party ― with a personal stake in a particular case had a significant and disproportionate influence in placing the judge on the case by raising funds or directing the judge`s election campaign when the case was pending or imminent.‖ This is the standard set by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Massey Coal case.

3. What do you perceive to be the greatest obstacle to justice in Ohio?

Assuring affordable and equal access to justice. In my travels as state bar President and now as an appellate judge, Ohioans tell me they want to have confidence in their courts. They want a fair and impartial justice system in which to resolve disputes and protect their rights. Ohioans facing barriers to access necessarily lose confidence in the judicial system. Moreover, as the late Chief Justice Moyer explained, ―The idea of a multiple-judge court certainly is that the process includes people of different backgrounds, different philosophies, different views on issues, and the perception of an all-Republican court is that we don`t have that.‖ We must meet the unmet legal needs of working families. The rule regulating how cases are tried, 24 regulating the lawyers and judges, and regulating court operations must promote confidence in our judicial system, fair and impartial decision-making, and efficient, economical, and transparent operations.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. Word limits apply for each question. Direct references to opponents are not permitted.

Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: September 26, 2010 17:04
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