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Two Ohio Supreme Court candidates stood out to us as the better options for voters when they head to the polls next moth: 8th District Court of Appeals Judge Melody Stewart and Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Donnelly. 

Both are Democrats, have considerable experience on the bench and are well-regarded by lawyers around the state.

Stewart is running for the seat vacated by the court’s lone Democrat, former Justice William O’Neill, who resigned in January to run governor.

After O’Neill’s departure, Ohio Gov. John Kasich appointed then-7th District Court of Appeals Judge Mary DeGenaro, a Republican, to replace him. She had served on the appeals court for 17 years, and she had been planning to run for the seat even before Kasich selected her to fill out the remaining months of O’Neill’s term.

Stewart has sat on the 8th District Court of Appeals since 2006. She previously served as a professor at several law schools and worked as an assistant law director for the cities of Cle...

Stewart, 56, a Democrat of color who has served on the local appellate court for almost 12 years, would be much more if elected: a change-maker on a high court that is entirely white and entirely Republican and that needs to intensify its oversight of those judges who fail to adhere to judicial canons, fail to act with respect to all those who come before them and sometimes even fail to show up on time.

"I would vehemently work to push some reforms to make the judicial system overall more effective, more efficient and more accountable," Stewart vowed in the endorsement interview.

...Stewart, her legal acumen attested to by her peers, would bring a different frame of reference to the Ohio Supreme Court in a state whose diversity is not reflected in that august body.Voters should elect Melody J. Stewart to the Ohio Supreme Court in the Jan. 2 term.

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Voters will find two races for the Ohio Supreme Court on the Nov. 6 ballot. One involves filling the vacancy that Justice Terrence O’Donnell will create when he steps down at the end of the year. The other goes back to William O’Neill departing the high court in January...

We recommend the election of Melody Stewart on Nov. 6.

Stewart has spent the past 12 years as a judge on the 8th District Ohio Court of Appeals, which covers Cuyahoga County. She has won respect for the high quality of her work, especially for showing a timely and constructive brand of independence. What impresses, too, is the richness of her background and perspectives.

As a Democrat and an African-American, Stewart would add obvious diversity to an all-Republican and all-white court. More telling are her degree in music from the University of Cincinnati, her early experience in health care management, her doctorate in applied social science, time as a law professor and practicing law.

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October 8, 2018

Ohio voters won’t change the gender balance on the Ohio Supreme Court when they fill two seats on the seven-member bench on Nov. 6, but they could bring new perspectives to the all-Republican, all-white court.

The other seat will be filled by a female judge — either appointed Justice Mary DeGenaro, a Republican from Youngstown, or 8th District Court of Appeals Judge Melody Stewart, a Democrat from Cleveland. While both are highly qualified, The Dispatch believes Melody Stewart, an African-American Ph.D. and former law professor, would provide some valuable new perspectives on the state’s highest court.

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September 7, 2018

TOLEDO - Judge Melody J. Stewart started reading the law books that a company executive/law student brought into the health-care management office where she worked. That led to law school, teaching law at schools like the Univ. of Toledo, and ultimately the bench of the 8th District Court of Appeals for 12 years. A Democrat and African American, she is running for what is now an all-Republican, all-white Ohio Supreme Court. 

“My opponent is certainly qualified and competent but does not improve the court in any respect... If anything, it may be more detrimental to the court because it maintains the grave possibility of group think... My election improves the court with diversity of background, diversity of thought. Ohio is a very diverse state. We are urban, rural, suburban, farming communities, technology, educational institutions, blue collar, white collar, no collar. The highest level of the judiciary should be more reflective of understanding those pockets...”

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September 5, 2018

TOLEDO - The four judges vying for two Ohio Supreme Court seats have signed the state bar association’s “clean campaign” pledge, vowing not to engage in campaign activity that goes against the court’s political impartiality.

As part of the clean campaign agreement, the Ohio State Bar Association’s Judicial Election Campaign Advertising Monitoring Committee has asked each candidate to take personal responsibility for their advertisements and statements they and their authorized committees issues, and to publicly disavow ads from other sources that violate the pledge. 

“We believe the public and our judicial system at large are best served when judicial campaigns focus on candidates’ credentials, experience, and temperament. This allows Ohio voters to make better informed decisions at the ballot box and ultimately, to send fair and impartial jurists to the bench” 

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August 22, 2018

COLUMBUS — The Ohio AFL-CIO and their 600,000 members from across the state have endorsed Judge Melody J. Stewart for the Ohio Supreme Court. “Judges Donnelly and Stewart have outstanding credentials and experience, and will bring much-needed balance to the state’s high court, helping ensure equal justice under the law for hard-working Ohioans and their families” said Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga.

“The decisions made at the Ohio Supreme Court affect everybody, either directly or indirectly, and that’s why who sits on the bench is so important to Ohio’s working families,” said Judge Stewart. “I’m proud to receive the endorsement of the Ohio AFL-CIO and their workers across the state.”

The endorsement came as both Judges Stewart and Donnelly received higher ratings than their respective opponents from the Ohio State Bar Association last week, with Judge Stewart earning the highest rating among all the candidates by scoring a 29 out of a possible 30.

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August 15, 2018

COLUMBUS — The Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) Commission on Judicial Candidates released its ratings for the 2018 General Election Tuesday, with Judges Melody J. Stewart and Michael P. Donnelly pulling in higher ratings than their respective opponents in the two races for Ohio Supreme Court. 

Judge Stewart earned the highest rating among all the candidates with a score of 29 out of a possible 30.

“Judges Stewart and Donnelly are consummate professionals who are committed to fighting for Ohio families, preserving, protecting and defending the Ohio Constitution and ensuring equal justice under the law for all,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper.

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April 6, 2018

Running to be a judge — or at the highest level, an Ohio Supreme Court justice — is unlike any other political exercise in Ohio. It’s a clash of qualifications and legal concepts, rather than issues, with judicial campaign rules forbidding personal commentary and attacks.It’s a generally collegial exercise as witnessed Friday when the Democrat, Melody Stewart, and Republican, appointed Justice Mary DeGenaro, running for the same Ohio Supreme Court seat greeted each other with a warm hug and shop talk.The two judges squaring off over the other Supreme Court seat in the Nov. 6 election —

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February 7, 2018

Judge Melody Stewart, a Democrat on the Eighth District Court of Appeals in Cleveland, will challenge DeGenaro. Stewart, 55, was first elected to the court in 2006 and has served as a visiting justice on the Ohio Supreme Court. Stewart is a member of the Ohio Criminal Justice Recodification Committee, a panel that is examining and suggesting updates to Ohio's criminal code.  

Stewart earned a bachelor of music degree from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and a law degree from Cleveland Marshall. 

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February 6, 2018

 COLUMBUS — Ohio Democrats have two top-notch candidates for state Supreme Court in 2018, with Appellate Court Judge Melody J. Stewart and Common Pleas Court Judge Michael P. Donnelly filing their petitions today to run for Ohio’s highest court.

“It’s time to take politics out of the Ohio Supreme Court, restore balance and elect justices who understand Ohioans’ real lives and economic challenges,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “The Court needs the best and most capable jurists, and Judge Melody Stewart and Judge Michael Donnelly bring extensive experience — both in the courtroom and in the community — to the bench.”

Elected to the Ohio Court of Appeals’ Eighth Appellate District in 2006 and twice re-elected, Judge Stewart has more than 30 years of combined administrative, legal and academic experience in a number of private and public settings. 

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