Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Fourth and Ninth District Judges Hear Supreme Court Cases

Image of Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge William H. HarshaImage of Ninth District Court of Appeals Judge Beth Whitmore

From top: Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge William H. Harsha and Ninth District Court of Appeals Judge Beth Whitmore.

Image of Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge William H. HarshaImage of Ninth District Court of Appeals Judge Beth Whitmore

From top: Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge William H. Harsha and Ninth District Court of Appeals Judge Beth Whitmore.

Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge William H. Harsha and Ninth District Court of Appeals Judge Beth Whitmore served as visiting judges on the Ohio Supreme Court today and heard oral arguments in two separate cases.

Judge Harsha replaced Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor,who recused herself from State v. Taylor (Case No. 2012-2136). The case from Summit County concerned whether penalty and offense levels are tethered when a state statute is amended between the date of the offense and the date of sentencing.

According to the Ohio Constitution, in the event of a recusal by a justice, the chief justice or acting chief justice can select any of the 69 sitting Ohio appellate court judges to sit temporarily on the Supreme Court. As the senior associate justice, Justice Paul E. Pfeifer named Judge Harsha to sit in place of Chief Justice O’Connor in this case.

Judge Harsha has served by appointment to the Ohio Supreme Court six times, last serving as a visiting judge on the court in July 2010.

“Being appointed as a visiting judge to the Supreme Court of Ohio is one of the most rewarding professional experiences a judge can have,” Judge Harsha said. “I look forward to it immensely.”

Judge Harsha was elected to and has served on the Fourth District Court of Appeals since 1989. He has served terms as presiding and administrative judge. Prior to serving as an appeals court judge, Judge Harsha was the Pickaway County prosecuting attorney and was a partner at a law firm in Circleville. He received his law degree from Cooley Law School.

Ninth District Court of Appeals Judge Beth Whitmore replaced Justice Terrence O’Donnell,who recused himself from ProgressOhio.org, Inc. v. JobsOhio (Case No. 2012-1272). The Franklin County case concerned whether an advocacy group has the right to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the JobsOhio Act.

Judge Whitmore has served as a visiting judge on the Ohio Supreme Court several times. She last sat for oral arguments in May 2007. She was elected to and has served the Ninth District Court of Appeals since 1998.

“As an appellate judge, I appreciate the critical role of the Supreme Court in bringing needed clarity and finality to thorny legal issues,” Judge Whitmore said. “It is an honor to serve that purpose, and a pleasure to sit on the court in this very historic courtroom.”

Prior to serving the Ninth District Court of Appeals, Judge Whitmore served as a judge on the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. She obtained her law degree from the University of Akron School of Law after she served in the United States Air Force and was discharged with the rank of captain.  Judge Whitmore began her law career in private practice.

The Ninth District Court of Appeals serves 4 counties in northern Ohio and the Fourth District Court of Appeals serves 14 counties in southern Ohio.  Both districts hear cases from county, municipal and common pleas courts as well as original actions in habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, procedendo and quo warranto.

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