February 29, 2012
Chief Justice O'Connor Touts Openness and Access to Courts in Speech

Supreme Court of Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor discussed the importance of openness and access to courts at a luncheon meeting Tuesday of the Rotary Clubs of Heath, Granville, Pataskala and Newark.

She contrasted the lack of access granted by the U.S. Supreme Court to the transparency of the Ohio Supreme Court’s proceedings, which have been broadcast and streamed live on the Internet since 2004.

“By allowing cameras in to show the proceedings, the U.S. Supreme Court could play a significant role in fostering a greater public understanding about how courts work, especially appellate courts,” Chief Justice O’Connor said.

Openness and access don’t just impact the way the highest court in the land or the top court in the state operate, Chief Justice O’Connor told the Rotarians, it extends to lower courts in the state and federal systems too.

Cameras are not allowed in federal courtrooms. In contrast, Rule 12 of the Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio permits cameras in all Ohio courtrooms – from the municipal court level to the Ohio Supreme Court level – subject to the discretion of the presiding judge.

“We in the state court system are actively engaged in furthering openness and access to the courts,” Chief Justice O’Connor said. “We may not be perfect but we continue to take steps to increase public trust and confidence in the courts.

“I hope our counterparts in the federal system progress to where we’ve come and open their doors for all the world to see. Without that access, misconceptions about what courts do will persist.”

As the sixth woman and 148th justice to serve on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice O’Connor was elected in 2002, re-elected in 2008 and elected as Chief Justice in 2010.

An archive of Ohio Supreme Court oral argument videos can be found at www.ohiochannel.org.

For a high-resolution, print-quality photo of Chief Justice O'Connor, visit: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/PIO/news/images/justices/oconnor_highres.zip.

Contact: Chris Davey or Bret Crow at 614.387.9250.