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Native son isn't ready to call it quits

Matt Westerhold • Mar 23, 2010 at 6:27 PM

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Thomas Moyer visited the Register on Monday.

He was scheduled to speak at a Republican women's gathering at the Sandusky Yacht Club, and his assistant called and asked whether the Register editorial board or a reporter would like to chat. Of course we did, and Justice Moyer arrived exactly on time at 5 p.m.

Over the years I've heard much said about Moyer -- good and bad -- but it's easy to set aside all that chatter.

The chief justice is a native of Sandusky and grew up on Erie Boulevard. His father and his brother both were attorneys, he said, but his intention was to become a doctor. That didn't work, so he decided to pursue the family business.

Moyer talked with me and two reporters for just over an hour. He was open to our questions and thoughtful in the responses he offered. When I asked what was the one change he would make to Ohio's court system if he could wave a magic wand, he replied he would change the way justices are elected to the state's High Court.

Political party affiliation, and politics for that matter, are prohibited from playing a role in the elections for justices, but elections are all about politics. 

Moyer advocates an appointment-approval process for justices, a model used in other states. It makes sense to me because as closely as I pay attention to political races, I've never been able to understand or feel very confident when I punch the ballot for Supreme Court races. "Who are these guys?" is the recurring thought I have when I review the choices and remember the competing political ads that play on television. Big money advertising, have to like that, but perhaps not in this case.

Moyer is barred from running for re-election next year because he will hit the big 70, and state law prohibits a judge from seeking re-election after hitting that age, he said. Moyer's term will end, he has no plans to retire. He's still reviewing his options, he said, but he's looking at work as a mediator or possibly teaching a new crop of legal scholars.

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