“The Issue Is Bail” ad from the Republican State Leadership Committee’s Judicial Fairness Initiative
Watch the ad:
Text of the ad: In a voiceover, “The issue is bail. We live in the midst of a crime epidemic. Yet the three Democrat judges running for the highest court in Ohio all refuse to support putting the safety of our communities first in the decisions that grant bail to violent criminals. Each with soft on crime records. Each with reckless positions on bail. For the safety of Ohio families, we must keep Brunner, Zayas, and Jamison off the Supreme Court.”
Who's responsible for this ad?
This ad is paid for by the Republic State Leadership’s Judicial Fairness Initiative which is registered with the IRS as a 527. The Judicial Fairness Initiative states that “Since its formation, JFI has raised and spent more than $21 million in states across the country, including Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Arkansas, Louisiana, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.”
In 2020, the Judicial Fairness Initiative received $4,775,658 from the Republican State Leadership Committee which is also a 527. This is the only contribution that the Initiative received.
2022 contributions are not available, but Open Secrets has an overview of the Republican State Leadership Committee activities and an overview of top donors during 2020.
The Brennan Center for Justice’s Buying Time project has been tracking political spending in state Supreme Court races. Click here for information about political ads and spending in the Ohio Supreme Court races this year.
Discussion and Analysis
This is the second ad from the Republican State Leadership Committee’s Judicial Fairness Initiative. Its first ad focused on three decisions that the Democratic candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court made. Click here to discover more and judge the ad.
On October 27, 2022, the Ohio State Bar Association’s Judicial Election Advertising Monitoring Committee sent a letter to the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) advising them that their ad entitled “Bail” violates the Committee’s standards and serves “to erode public trust and confidence in the judiciary.”
The ad criticizes Justice Jennifer Brunner, Judge Marilyn Zayas, and Judge Terri Jamison as being “reckless” and “soft on crime” for their opinions in select and highly-nuanced criminal cases. The committee has asked the RSLC to discontinue this ad or revise it to provide more clarity and context for the cases referenced as it is “misleading and a disservice to voters to grossly oversimplify their opinions just to score political points.”
Statement from the Republican State Leadership Committee about the letter from the Ohio State Bar Association:
“This request from the Ohio Bar Association is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to conceal the soft-on-crime records of Jennifer Brunner, Terri Jamison and Marilyn Zayas. We stand behind our ad and this request only makes us all the more confident that our efforts are working. Ohioans demand judges on their Supreme Court who will protect their communities and follow the Constitution and we will continue educating them on who are the best choices in these races to do so.” – RSLC Deputy Communications Director Mason Di Palma
This ad cites articles the Plain Dealer on Sept. 22 and 23 and the Morrow County Sentinel on August 31:
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Brunner criticizes State Issue 1, Cleveland.com/Plain Dealer, September 22, 2022
Jennifer Brunner for chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court: endorsement editorial (interview at the end), Cleveland.com/Plain Dealer, September 23, 2022
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine Makes a Trip to the Morrow County Fair, Morrow County Sentinel, August 31, 2022
The ad identifies the following cases:
In a 4-3 decision, with Justice Brunner as part of the majority, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld a decision by an intermediate state appellate court to reduce the bail of a criminal defendant from $1,500,000 to $500,000, deeming the $1.5 million excessive.
The State of Ohio appealed on the grounds that trial courts should be permitted to consider public safety concerns when setting bail amounts. The Ohio Supreme Court disagreed and reiterated that the sole purpose of bail is to ensure a person’s attendance in court. Under Ohio Criminal Rule. 46, a trial court may not impose bail that violates the constitutional prohibition against bail in an amount higher than an amount reasonably calculated to ensure the accused’s presence in court.
Under Ohio law, prosecutors can ask judges to detain suspects that they deem criminal if public safety is a concern.
It should be noted that Justices and candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court Sharon Kennedy, Pat Fischer, and Pat DeWine disagreed with the majority and each wrote a dissenting opinion.
Earl Jones was convicted on aggravated-murder, murder, and felony-murder charges. He appealed the aggravated-murder conviction. The First District Court of Appeals, with Judge Marilyn Zayas concurring, reversed that conviction based on lack of sufficient evidence and discharged Jones from further prosecution on that count. The First District Court of Appeals remanded the case for a new trial on the remaining murder and felony-murder counts. The Ohio Supreme Court reversed that decision and held that Jones could be retried on the additional charge of aggravated-murder.
State v. Johnson challenged the scope of an inventory search of an impounded automobile following the lawful arrest of the driver. The Franklin County Court of Common Pleas granted a motion to suppress the evidence found during the search citing the officers exceeded the scope of a lawful inventory search. On appeal, the Tenth District Court of Appeals held that the trial court erred in suppressing the evidence and the officers did not exceed the scope of a lawful inventory search. Judge Terri Jamison dissented and affirmed the trial court’s decision, noting “Police searches require warrants unless one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement applies (e.g., consent, exigent circumstances, plain view). The search that occurred in this case did not fall into a known exception.”