Sunday, May 27, 2001

Ad wakes us up to judge's many talents

        Judge Mark Painter of the Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals won't be seen walking the streets of Cincinnati with his arm in a sling, but he did stretch his arm muscles a bit this week patting himself on the back.

        Readers of Wednesday's Enquirer might have noticed the advertisement in the upper left corner of Page B5.

        There, they saw an ad from the judge's campaign committee offering the Cincinnati judge congratulations on his 200th written opinion to be published in national law books, “mak
ing him one of the most published Ohio judges in history.”

        It went on to detail how his opinions have been used as precedent in more than 1,000 cases, how he was the most published trial judge in Ohio history when he was on Hamilton County municipal court, and how the legal textbook he wrote - Ohio Driving Under the Influence Law - is in its 10th edition.

        This should be enough to make any law-abiding Ohioan stand up and cheer and run right up to the nearest polling place to cast a ballot for Judge Painter.

        Except Judge Painter isn't running for anything this year.

        Well, not anything you will be able to vote on.

        This month, President Bush nominated Ohio Supreme Court Justice Deborah Cook, a Republican, to a federal judgeship.

        It is going to take months, probably, for Justice Cook's nomination to clear the U.S. Senate - especially now that the Democrats have regained control - but it's not too soon for Ohio Republicans to be thinking about whom Gov. Bob Taft might appoint to take Justice Cook's place.

        Judge Painter is sure thinking about it.

        “Certainly I would be one of the leading candidates for that,” said the judge. “It's up to the governor, of course. But, to me, you could just take the resumes and match them up and decide who is best qualified.”

        The newspaper ad running at a time when some Hamilton County Republicans are writing letters to the governor urging him to appoint Judge Painter looks like part of a campaign, but the judge said it was just a coincidence.

        “We'd been waiting to do this for some time; I was stuck on 199 for three weeks or so,” Judge Painter said. “I could have sent out a press release, but nobody would print it. So I bought an ad.”

        Ad or no ad, it will be no slam dunk for the Cincinnati Republican. There hasn't been a Republican who lives south of Interstate 70 to serve on the Ohio Supreme Court in over 30 years; and the competition for the Cook appointment, whenever it comes, is rather fierce.

        Lt. Gov. Maureen O'Connor and Cuyahoga County Appellate Judge Terence O'Donnell, who lost an Ohio Supreme Court election last year, are said to be the early favorites.

        But they don't have a newspaper ad pointing out that they are the authors of Internet biographies of Oliver Wendell Holmes, President Warren G. Harding, and former President and U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Howard Taft.

        That's William Howard Taft, as in great-grandfather of the current Ohio governor. Who gets to pick an Ohio Supreme Court justice.

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