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

Judith Ann Lanzinger
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?

Judicial independence, the foundation of the third branch of government, does not mean that judges may decide cases however they wish. It means that judges must adhere to the rule of law no matter how their decisions may be viewed by the public. Supreme Court justices and other judges, although elected by voters, cannot ―represent‖ any particular group or advocate any particular position. We are judges, not legislators or members of the executive branch. Our judicial oath says we must administer cases under the law, "without respect to persons." This means that all parties to a case deserve to be heard and have their arguments considered by unbiased and impartial deciders. Information and education helps citizens understand that an independent judiciary allows courts to be fair and strive to give equal access to justice under law.

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

Under Ohio law, individuals (spouses, individual attorneys, etc) may contribute up to $3,450 to a Supreme Court candidate while political action committees and law firms may contribute up to $6,325. These limits, presumed to be reasonable, are followed, so there is no likelihood that a significant judicial campaign expenditure‖ would prevent me from sitting on a case. My record shows that I do not participate in any cases in which my children or son-in-law are counsel of record. I have recused myself from considering discretionary review of cases on which my opponent (an appellate judge) has written an opinion. I do not participate in an appeal if I have been a trial judge on the case. In short, I will recuse, sua sponte, when there is possibility that a reasonable person would believe I could not be impartial.

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

When I taught in Moscow for the National Judicial College, former Soviet Union judges were amazed to be told that American courts have no army to enforce decisions, but because people believe in and respect our courts, they abide by their rulings. Since the rule of law depends on the belief and confidence of the public in an impartial and fair judiciary, I think that the greatest obstacle to justice is misperception and misunderstanding of the third branch of government. For that reason, in a non-political blog, I am currently writing about law, civics and the judicial system. The more people know about how judges work and how the courts actually function, the more interested they will be. And greater interest should make courts even better.

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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