COLUMBUS - The days of Alice Robie Resnick hearing oral arguments as an Ohio Supreme Court justice are over.
The 18-year court veteran, the only Democrat left in statewide office, has taken herself off the bench for future oral arguments. She and her six fellow justices will work to clear their docket over the next three months of cases in which she has participated but no decision has yet been rendered.
Among them is a constitutional challenge to charter schools.
Her office sent an e-mail recusing herself from court arguments on June 21, and the first arguments she missed as a result were on Aug. 8. A rotation of judges from district courts of appeals from across the state will sit in her stead through the court's last scheduled arguments this year on Dec. 13.
"This is a decision each individual justice makes on his or her own," said court spokesman Chris Davey. "At their discretion, they may recuse themselves from a particular case or when it comes time to transition off the bench."
The last justice to leave the court, Francis Sweeney at the end of 2004, did not recuse himself from cases. But the court that year heard its last arguments on Oct. 26, leaving two months for the court to decide the cases before he left.
Prior to that, Deborah Cook, while awaiting Senate confirmation to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, made the decision to stop hearing cases as of Nov. 13, 2002. Her last day on the court was May 16, 2003, because of delayed votes on her confirmation.
During that period she missed oral arguments in 79 cases.
By comparison, Justice Resnick is expected to miss arguments in 53 cases. She will participate in decisions on which appeals the court will accept and in election matters, public records disputes, and other actions brought directly to the court, said Mr. Davey.
"Justice Resnick, in particular, made it very clear her decision to recuse in these cases is based on her belief that doing so will help the court in the management of its case flow," he said.
In addition to their regular salaries, the varied visiting judges assigned to sit in Justice Resnick's stead will receive daily stipends of $50 plus lodging, mileage, meals, and other expense reimbursements.
At 67, Justice Resnick, of Ottawa Hills, could have run for a fourth six-year term before facing term limits, but she opted not to.
Voters will decide on Nov. 7 to replace her with either Democrat Ben Espy, a Columbus attorney, or Republican Bob Cupp, a Lima-based appellate judge. Both are former state senators.
Justice Resnick, a former 6th District Court of Appeals judge, has insisted her decision to retire was based on family concerns.
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