LISBON - Supreme Court of Ohio justices who visited Columbiana County Wednesday stressed their quest to inform the public about what they do by promoting their Web site.
"I think it's a great learning tool," Justice Maureen O'Connor told everyone attending a luncheon hosted by the Columbiana County Bar Association at the Lisbon First Methodist Church.
O'Connor, Chief Justice Thomas Moyer and fellow justices Paul Pfeifer, Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Judith Ann Lanzinger and Robert Cupp each took a turn at the podium, offering thanks to the many people involved in their visit and talking about different topics. Justice Terrence O'Donnell was unable to attend due to illness.
Streaming video of oral arguments can be viewed live on the Web site, with all oral argument sessions since March 2004 archived and viewable. Copies of past decisions along with documents from current cases can also be viewed on the Web site.
O'Connor said the Off-Site Court Program gives them an opportunity to bring what they do to the communities they serve, with the Internet offering even more opportunity. She suggested attorneys show their clients how to access the site so they can learn about the court process.
Lanzinger, a former teacher, said the Web site offers accessibility to the court.
"We have nothing to hide about what the court does," she said.
Moyer complimented area students on how well-dressed they were and how good their questions were during a press conference held prior to oral arguments at the Courthouse, where the justices heard arguments in four cases on their docket.
"We were very impressed with the questions of the students," he said after the luncheon, adding that they sometimes underestimate their interest.
He said he hopes they take the experience and use it as a basis to understand all the court's issues they're going to see in their lifetime.
In his remarks, Pfeifer commented how the cases they heard involved everyday matters, noting that what they do is try to resolve commonly occurring issues that occur in daily lives.
Bar Association President Robert Herron, the county prosecutor, said the visit was a great opportunity for members of the bar to have contact with the justices and for students interested in law careers to get exposure to the judicial process.
The luncheon also served as the bar's celebration of Law Day, with Leetonia junior Theo Smith reading his first-place entry in the "There Ought to be a Law" essay contest. He argued there ought to be a law "that bans standardized testing." To support his argument, he said standardized testing assumes that all students come from the same background, learn the same way and take tests the same way, but they don't, making it unfair.
Other winners in the contest, all from Leetonia, included: Hailey Blosser, second place; Ben McClaren, third place; and honorable mention for Jaclyn Leffel, Anthony Dominic, Josh Selway, Ciera Cramer, Seth Inboden, James MacKenzie and Madison Popio.
Attorneys honored for their volunteer legal work included Eric Kibler and Amanda Jackson.
After the luncheon, some of the justices planned to tour the Eastern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lisbon and visit the site of the first Supreme Court of Ohio session in Columbiana County on state Route 7.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org