Ohioans Can Make History By Electing Melody J. Stewart To The Ohio Supreme Court
Ohioans deserve a justice system that they can trust and be confident will treat everyone equally under the law, which is a primary motivating force behind the Democratic Party candidacy of Judge Melody J. Stewart.
If elected Nov. 6, Stewart will be the first black woman ever elected to the Ohio Supreme Court. You can check your voter registration, find your polling location and all the other details to help make history this election by visiting IWillVote.com.
Currently, the all-Republican Ohio Supreme Court fails to truly represent the interests of all Ohioans.
“The decisions made at the Ohio Supreme Court affect everybody, either directly or indirectly,” Stewart, who sits now on the Eighth District Court of Appeals in Cuyahoga County, said in an interview. “The Supreme Court gets to decide which cases to hear, and so from the very beginning it’s important that there are diverse perspectives on the court to decide which issues are of great importance to the state, because that’s how cases get in for review.”
If you have a group of Supreme Court justices comprised of individuals who are all from the same political party, she said, that lends itself to group-think. It’s better, she said, to have justices with diverse perspectives and backgrounds to represent those perspectives and backgrounds on the court when cases are being considered for review as well as when they are being decided.
Stewart is a native Ohioan born and raised in Cuyahoga County who received her baccalaureate from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati — “What else would I study in college with a name like Melody?” she joked.
Stewart then earned her law degree from Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and her Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.
After working as an assistant law director, Stewart began a career in education. She lectured, taught, and worked as an assistant dean at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. She later joined the faculty there and taught classes on ethics and professional responsibility, criminal law, criminal procedure, and legal research, writing and advocacy.
Stewart highlighted a number of ways courts can increase trust and confidence in the justice system, first pointing toward the need for more efficiency.
“It takes cases a very long time to wind through our court system,” she said. “I think we in the judiciary need to be more responsive to the people we serve. We need to improve our use of technology. Where you live in the state should not dictate whether you can file a court document electronically.”
She also emphasized the need to create better access to the justice system regardless of financial means, not only for criminal matters but also for some civil cases like those dealing with consumer matters.
“We need more legal aid and assistance available to help people get out of some dire circumstances that may be remedied simply by having legal counsel, having someone who knows how to help remedy collateral consequences of criminal convictions, credit issues and the like,” she said.
She suggested working with groups toward more workshops and clinics throughout the state where legal professionals are available to give consultation and advice.
Stewart said she isn’t running for the Ohio Supreme Court to advance her career but rather because she believes in good government and good public service which she has constantly demonstrated throughout her career and have some balance on the Supreme Court. She thinks that it’s naive at best and maybe insulting at worst to believe the public can have confidence in the highest level of our judiciary being comprised of justices who all belong to the same political party.
“I’m running because,in addition to my diverse background, experience, education, and perspectives, a value-added component of my candidacy is that I am a nominee from a party that is different from the entire makeup of our Supreme Court,” she said. “I am also running because I am committed to improving our judicial system. When you are privileged to have attended some of the best colleges and universities our state has to offer, gain a wealth of work and people experiences, operate in a way that does not abandon common sense and always try to constantly be aware of your own implicit or unconscious bias in making decisions, those things operate together to produce better outcomes all the way around. That’s what the people of Ohio deserve — and that’s exactly what they’ll get with my election to the Supreme Court.”
Paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party