On Thursday, the Judicial Election Advertising Monitoring Committee of the Ohio State Bar Association announced in a letter drafted by Paul Hervey, Esq., chair of the Ohio State Bar Association that Justice Patrick R. DeWine violated the rules for campaign advertising. The specific television campaign ad is available online at youtube.com/watch?v=hTTt4dnABFI.
A copy of the letter was provided to the Wapakoneta Daily News by Marilyn Zayas, First District Court of Appeals Judge, and is reprinted here.
According to Hervey, the role of the committee is to serve as the arm of the Ohio State Bar Association that is charged with the responsibility to investigate written complaints that 'impugns the integrity of the judicial system," "the integrity of candidate for the Supreme Court," or "erodes public trust."
The committee found the ad "could serve to erode public trust in the impartiality of the judiciary and unfairly lead voters to believe that Judge Zayas will decide issues in a predetermined manner."
DeWine's campaign ad cites a news story that ran on April 25 in The Columbus Dispatch. The committee also found that the news story only reported that "'Judge Zayas said she would have agreed with the majority opinion (in DeBose v. McGuffey)." She did not say that she personally opposed considering public safety when setting bail."
Judge Marilyn Zayas stopped in Wapakoneta Thursday to give an exclusive interview to the Wapakoneta Daily News to refute the statement in the ad. She was adamant in her stand that justice should be determined by existing law or statute.
"When there is a lack of integrity, how can there be fairness?" Zayas asked regarding DeWine's ad. "Ultimately, what voters are going to be deciding is, 'Who do you trust?"
The implication of the committee's finding is that a judge's role is all about following the rules; if DeWine is willing to break the rules for his own campaign purposes, how can he be trusted when it comes to making decisions once elected into the position?
The committee found that "ads like this exploit widespread misperception about the role of judges in our system of government... [when it comes to] State Issue 1.”
“The ad mischaracterizes what was decided by our Ohio Supreme Court… Just because he did not like the outcome of the decision, first of all he should not be attacking the rule of law... A decision was made by the Supreme Court, so it is my job as Judge to honor that decision and to uphold the rule of law. That decision was simply the court interpreting a statute.”
Zayas explained that the statute is written in plain language and that the Ohio Supreme Court did not misinterpret the meaning of the wording of the statute. Additionally, since July 2020 when changes were made and approved by the legislature, existing case law would also support the correct interpretation and application of the statute.
"I’ve never espoused my personal beliefs… So he’s attacking me because I support the rule of law… and [wrongly] saying that I don’t believe in public safety,"Zayas said. “It’s just that he didn’t like the statue.”
In a previous interview, with DeWine on Sept. 15 in an exclusive interview with the Wapakoneta Daily News, he stated it is not the role of the judge to try to create legislation but to carry it out, yet when speaking about Issue 1, he did state he disagreed with the decision on Issue 1:
“’Issue 1’ is a constitutional amendment that says that judges, when they set bail for criminals, shall consider, among other things, public safety. That came out of DuBose, a 4-3 decision of the Ohio Supreme Court. It said that local judges, when they set bail for accused criminals, are not allowed to consider the safety of the public. That, in my view, was a pretty shocking ruling, because judges in Ohio have always considered public safety when they set bail for alleged criminals,” said DeWine. “In fact, the rule that judges are supposed to follow specifically says a judge may consider, in setting the terms of bail, the safety of any person in the community. When the court made [the DuBose] decision, I wrote a pretty vehement dissent explaining why that decision was wrongly decided and ultimately made Ohio less safe. But nevertheless, it was a dissent. The majority opinion was the law in Ohio. Local judges have been forced to follow that across the state. “DeWine explained citizens, prosecutors, sheriffs, and police officers have been concerned as a result of the DuBose decision. “[Due to] some of the people who’ve been immediately released on low bail, as a result of [DuBose], the outcry was so great that the legislature put a Constitutional amendment, called ‘Issue 1,’ on the ballot that will effectively overrule that decision,” DeWine said. “I support ‘Issue 1.’ I think that it makes sense for judges to consider public safety. I think it’s critical that they do that. But I will also say that it shouldn’t take a Constitutional amendment to get the Ohio Supreme Court to follow the law and exercise common sense. That’s why I think these upcoming elections are so critical for the Ohio Supreme Court.” (To read the full article, visit tinyurl.com/mrszjb5r).
On a personal note, Zayas says she absolutely backs the public safety of communities around Ohio. How could she not? Zayas was raised in New York but has lived in Ohio for 43 years. Zayas said her own brother was a police officer in New York for 20 years and was injured in the line of duty when he was struck by a drunk driver. He was also a first responder during 9/11.
Zayas said she overcame nearly impossible odds, including being raised in a crime-ridden, drug-ridden neighborhood, raised by her mother alone, to rise in 2016 to her current position as the first Latina woman to serve on any of Ohio's appellate courts.
“To say that I don’t believe in public safety—it’s illogical,” Zayas said.