Ohio Supreme Court Justice Melody J. Stewart stopped by the Tuscarawas County Courthouse during her visit to the valley this week for a Q&A session with reporters. (Tusco TV)
New Philadelphia, Ohio (WJER) - The first African American woman voted onto the Ohio Supreme Court is including the valley as she visits more of the communities she serves throughout the state.
Justice Melody J. Stewart of Cleveland talked to reporters at the Tuscarawas County Courthouse ahead of a Democratic Party function Monday. Stewart, who was elected last year, says the role of justices can include promoting any legal or rule changes with bar associations, constituents and other programs serving the community.
“It’s a whole kind of holistic approach, and we need all that input… I need to continue to get informed about every aspect of the judicial system,” she says.
Stewart says justices also have a responsibility to teach others.
“It permeates everything I do. It really does. There’s no point in writing an opinion, authorizing a decision, that doesn’t educate lawyers and parties and even the public moving forward,” she says. “That was one of the things that attracted me most about running.”
Stewart says she would like to see consistency through the state when it comes to capital punishment, and courts striving to be more accommodating for defendants.
“When someone has to go to court, they shouldn’t lose their job because we don’t have enough evening hours or weekend hours,” she says.
While Stewart is the first African American woman elected to the Ohio Supreme Court, Justice Yvette McGee Brown was the first to serve when she was appointed by Governor Ted Strickland in 2011.
For more from Ohio Supreme Court Justice Melody J. Stewart, tune into Tusco TV's Across the Aisle with host Gail Garbrandt on Tuesday, March 26th, at 7:30 pm or on Friday, March 29th, at 4:30 pm on Spectrum Cable Channel 1021 or online at tusco.tv/watch.