Ohio's judiciary and legislature have distinct roles and powers and must maintain a constitutionally defined separation. Yet they both serve the people of Ohio and should work together in a single system of governance. The Judicial-Legislative Exchange Program promotes such cooperation.
The Judicial-Legislative Exchange Program seeks to improve the working relationship between the judicial and legislative branches by allowing members of each to better appreciate the day-to-day work of the other. By pairing individual legislators and judges, the program creates an opportunity to build personal relationships that may serve as resources for future communication and cooperation.
Statehouse visits are coordinated up to twice a year, during the spring and fall legislative sessions. Any judge or legislator can contact the Ohio Judicial Conference requesting an exchange. OJC staff may also initiate the invitation. Judges arrive in the morning and accompany their legislator to committee hearings or sit in on interested party meetings. At noon, the Judicial Conference hosts a lunch at the Ohio Judicial Center featuring remarks by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio. In the afternoon, the judge may observe a legislative session. The most recent Statehouse visit was held on March 23, 2011.
Legislators in Court
A member of the General Assembly attends a local court to observe a judge presiding over a typical session. To explain court proceedings, a court staffer might sit with the legislator. The court session is preceded by a breakfast meeting and following by lunch, where the judge and court staff can review the docket for the day and address any questions or concerns.
By attending Court, legislators can experience firsthand the volume and complexity of judges' work and see how they balance legal requirements, facts and their own discretion to make fair decisions. They also see how their actions in Columbus impact their local court.
The Judicial-Legislative Exchange Program is initiative and coordinated by the Ohio Judicial Conference: we recruit participats, match judges and legislators, distribute background material and handle the arrangments for a judge's visit to Columbus.
If you are a judge or legislator interested in participating, contact the Judicial Conference at 614-387-9750, or contact Alyssa Guthrie.