Thirty-seven new magistrates received a three-day crash course on what it’s like to transition from the bar to the bench during a second annual orientation at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center.
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor offers advice and guidance to new Ohio magistrates.
“You didn’t get this job by accident,” Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor told the group. “You are in this position because a judge found you knowledgeable about the law and trustworthy in your decision-making ability. Both magistrates and judges have the same mission when they ascend to the bench every day.”
“You must dispense justice faithfully and impartially. You must ensure that all litigants and interested parties know that you listened thoroughly to their cases,” she said.
The event – organized by the Court’s Judicial College – is constructed to help attendees learn about their new role and also offers a chance to network with colleagues.
“It’s been outstanding to meet the other magistrates and we talked about how it’s nice to realize you aren’t alone. There are so many people in the same boat,” said Jennifer Towell, a new magistrate in Akron’s Municipal Court.
Before her appointment, she was an attorney in private practice and also served as a judge advocate general (JAG) lieutenant for the U.S. Navy based in Washington D.C.
“I’ve learned judicial decorum,” Towell said. “(I’ve learned) how to manage my courtroom and navigate my relationships with court staff.”
Unlike judges, magistrates are not elected. They’re appointed by a judge and operate under the supervision of that elected judge.
Charmine Dose, a magistrate from Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court, sees the training as extremely valuable.
“I get to see it from all perspectives.” Dose said. “As a prosecutor, you have one angle. As a private practitioner, I had that angle. Now I get to make decisions and I know both angles.”
These magistrates will continue their education throughout their tenure on the bench. Ohio magistrates must complete 40 hours of continuing legal education, including 10 hours of instruction offered by the Judicial College, every two years.
By Anne Yeager, October 3, 2019