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LWV League of Women Voters of Ohio Education Fund

Smart Voter
Ohio State Government November 4, 2008 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Justice; Ohio State Supreme Court; 6 Year Term Starting 1/2/09

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Campaign Contributions, Access to Legal System

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

? 1. What is your response to research indicating that judicial decisions tend to favor large campaign contributors?

Answer from Peter M. Sikora:

The strength of our judiciary rests in the confidence Ohioans have in the fairness and impartiality of the court. The legitimacy of the court is undermined when studies show people believe contributions influence decisions. There is a serious need to restore confidence in the court, based on the fact that Supreme Court Justices routinely sit on cases after receiving campaign contributions from the parties involved or from groups that filed supporting briefs. On average, they voted in favor of the contributors 70% of the time. This emphasizes the need for balance on the court + so that every citizen can be assured that all perspectives will be considered before decisions are made.

Answer from Evelyn L. Stratton:

I believe this portrays an inaccurate perception of the judiciary that is fueled by the media, not by reality. A New York Times article, published two years ago, reported that I had voted in favor of my contributors in 55% of the cases in which I participated through March 2006. This was the lowest percentage attributed to any justice identified. However, this also indicated that in 45% of those cases I had voted against those who had contributed to my campaign. The vast majority of the contributions to my last campaign were $100 or less. In addition, there are now campaign limits of $3000 per person and $5500 per political action committee. These limits greatly reduce the ability of a contributor to use the size of a contribution to influence a judge's decision.

? 2. Do you believe that all Ohioans have adequate access to legal help and the legal system? If not, what can be done to provide wider and better access?

Answer from Peter M. Sikora:

As a society we need to ensure that people have access to affordable quality legal assistance. It is incumbent upon all of us + as well as those in the legal profession + to come forward and assist those who can not afford representation. Specifically, this includes an increase in pro-bono efforts in the legal community.

Answer from Evelyn L. Stratton:

No. The availability of legal resources for those unable to afford an attorney is a problem in Ohio. In an effort to help persons gain access to the courts, the Supreme Court of Ohio supports the Legal Aid Society and provides financial assistance to the group. The Court is in the process of developing legal forms to assist persons in legal matters which should result in better access to the courts. I also have supported efforts to recruit and train attorneys to provide pro bono services to qualified homeowners in foreclosure cases. Attorneys should be encouraged to assist those who cannot afford an attorney in all areas of the law. I will also focus efforts on pro bono services for Ohio's military veterans and reserve troops in my work on mental health court reforms.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. The answer must not exceed 100 words. Direct references to opponents are not permitted.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

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Created: January 24, 2009 10:48 PST
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