Thursday, August 15, 2002

Candidate tries to disqualify opponent

By Marie McCain,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Democratic candidate for Hamilton County Common Pleas judge is trying to knock his opponent off November's ballot, charging that the Republican isn't eligible to run because he hasn't practiced law in Ohio during the past six years.

        In a protest filed Wednesday with the Hamilton County Board of Elections, Bruce B. Whitman contends that Frederick D. Nelson, has actively practiced law in Ohio from only 1987 to 1989 and then again from 1991 to 1993.

        “A review of the database compiled by the clerk of courts for Hamilton County Court shows that Mr. Nelson acted as a counsel of record in such courts only in three years, 1989, 1991, and 1992,” he wrote.

        The Democrat cited a specific statute of Ohio law that says a judicial candidate must be an attorney “engaged in the practice of law in this state” for at least six years preceding the judge's term of office.

        The upcoming term would begin February 2003.

        Mr. Nelson called his opponent's contentions “ridiculous.”

        “It's a desperation tactic, and I frankly think this is the sort of things that's wrong with politics and perhaps with some elements of the legal profession itself,” he said.

        When asked if he qualified under the six-year rule, Mr. Nelson responded: “I am more than qualified to seek this judicial position under any definition.”

        Mr. Nelson, who is president of a public policy development firm in Cincinnati, said he has worked in civil litigation with the Cincinnati law firm Taft, Stettinius & Hollister and served as chief of staff and legal counsel to Rep. Steve Chabot. He said he is a part-time member of Ohio's Board on Uniform State Law, a voluntary post he was appointed to by Gov. Bob Taft.

        He said he would file “whatever response is appropriate” with the Board of Elections.


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