Office: For Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court
Term Beginning 1/2/2021
https://www.facebook.com/BrunnerCommittee/ and https://www.facebook.com/Justice-for-the-People-Judge-Jennifer-Brunner-for-Ohio-Supreme-Court-101751074823700/
Occupation: Judge, Ohio Tenth District Court of Appeals
Education: J.D. Capital University Law School, Order of the Curia; B.S. Sociology-Gerontology, Miami University, Cum Laude
Work Experience: Court of Appeals Judge since 2014; 17 years private law practice, during period of 1987 through 2014 when not in elected public service (founded what was initially home-based law firm in 1988 with 3 small children at home); USAID Rule of Law Expert for 4 engagements in Republic of Serbia on Judicial Reform and Government Accountability (anti-corruption) and 1 engagement in Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, all during period of 2012-2015; International Election Observer in Arab Republic of Egypt for 3 engagements in 2014-2015; Secretary of State of Ohio 2007-2011 (first female elected); Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge 2000-2005; Ohio Secretary of State’s office deputy director and legal counsel 1983-1987; Ohio Senate legislative aide and committee secretary 1978-1981, Member of 5 state/local boards: Ohio Student Loan Commission early 1990’s, Franklin County Board of Elections 1997; Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission 2011-2012; Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, Marriage & Family Therapist Board 2012-2014; Central Ohio Transit Authority
Family: Married since 1978 to attorney Rick L. Brunner from Columbiana County, Ohio, 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren with another on the way; 2 rescue dogs
2008 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Recipient for work as Ohio’s 52nd Secretary of State – https://www.jfklibrary.org/events-and-awards/profile-in-courage-award/award-recipients/jennifer-brunner-2008; current Board Chair, The Legacy Fund of the Columbus Foundation, supporting central Ohio LGBTQ+ nonprofit organizations; former board member of Cleveland-based Center for Community Solutions (research and advocacy on health policy) 2012-2019; American, Ohio and Columbus Bar Associations; American Judges Association; Oxfam Sisters of the Planet Ambassador; Member of US Global Leadership Coalition Ohio Advisory Committee; religious affiliations: Catholic and United Church of Christ (protestant)
Endorsements: Cleveland Construction and Building Trades Council; SEIU Local 11199; Communication Workers of America District 4; Ohio Federation of Teachers
Bar Association Ratings:
2002 Highly Recommended – http://www.cbalaw.org/cba_prod/files/polls/2002%20Judiciary%20Committee%20Findings.pdf;
2014 Highly Recommended – http://www.cbalaw.org/cba_prod/files/polls/2014%20Judiciary%20Committee%20Findings.pdf
(1) List your judicial experience (courts and years)
Judge, Tenth District Court of Appeals, elected 2014, reelected without opposition 2016
• Serve as one of eight judges in jurisdiction of 1.2 million people reviewing cases filed as of right from lower courts at county and municipal level (civil and felony and misdemeanor cases, probate, family law and administrative law), state court of claims cases, administrative law decisions and holding original jurisdiction in government-related cases.
• Participate in three-judge panels that hear oral arguments on cases fully briefed and prepared for review.
• Manage team of staff attorneys and paralegal in review of records and drafting and review of decisions.
• Confer with other appellate judges on cases presented for oral argument and written decisions following oral arguments.
• Sit as visiting judge on the Ohio Supreme Court and in other courts of appeals.
• Participate in state appellate judge training and information exchange.
• Research and draft decisions on appeals.
• Serve on court Personnel Committee.
• Central Ohio Association for Justice George E. Tyack Judicial Excellence Award for performance as appellate judge, May 2016.
• Judge, Franklin County Common Pleas Court, elected 2000, reelected 2002
• Managed regular docket of at least 500 civil cases and 125 criminal cases at any time pending.
• Eliminated docket backlog from 991 cases to 713 cases in one year.
• Conducted trials including three judge panel death penalty trial, criminal trials for aggravated murder, rape, felonious assault, complicity to felonious assault, robbery, burglary, and theft, and civil trials including age discrimination, premises liability (slip and fall), auto accident and medical malpractice.
• Implemented procedures for jurors to ask questions in trials; affirmed by Ohio Supreme Court with statewide procedures modeled after those challenged and affirmed.
• Working within court and with community mental health and substance abuse service providers, established and presided over the TIES (Treatment is Essential to Success) Program, a felony drug court specialized docket, providing for intensive probation of persons whose substance abuse or substance abuse co-occurring with mental illness has contributed to their commission of nonviolent felonies; this specialized docket is still in operation today.
• Supervised 45 probationers in TIES program and supervised activities of TIES Program coordinator, while maintaining regular docket.
• Collaborated with TIES program service providers across disciplines, including assisting with cross-training for better cooperation; advocate of collaboration for best planning, execution and results, including acceptance by affected populations.
• Presided over cases involving administrative appeals of state agency decisions, including appeals of ballot issue challenges.
• Served on following court committees: Court Personnel Committee, Court Technology Committee, New Judges Committee, Grants Review Committee, Assigned Counsel for Indigent Defendants Committee.
• Taught probation officers of the court and lawyers involved with the Ohio State Bar Foundation curriculum on poverty and working with people in poverty to help them succeed.
• Adjunct professor for graduate law enforcement program for Tiffin University, a private Ohio University, teaching law and ethics for law enforcement officers and for undergraduate law enforcement program, constitutional law for law enforcement
(2) What about your non-judicial legal experience qualifies you to be a judge?
My 17 years private practice experience with people from all walks of life has helped me better understand how the law affects people, in a wide variety of life situations. To be a lawyer is a calling to serve society and to uphold and protect the rule of law. I have worked for clients ranging from economically disadvantaged single mothers to one who was running for president (Jerry Brown in 1992).
My private law practice experience includes trial and appellate work for clients in common pleas courts in Franklin, Cuyahoga, Licking, Fairfield, Carroll, Mahoning and Hamilton Counties; in appellate courts in the Tenth, Third, Eighth, Fifth, First, Second and Sixth District Courts of Appeals; the Ohio Supreme Court; United States District Courts (Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio); Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals; and am admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. I have represented clients in administrative proceedings before numerous state and local boards, served as a special prosecutor for election fraud and as a hearing officer for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
In 2011, I drafted a statewide referendum petition for a coalition of voting rights activists, labor organizations, state and local political party organizations and faith-based and other nonprofit organizations who gathered more than 400,000 petition signatures to place voting rights referendum on statewide ballot; in 2012-2013 I developed a multi-state and federal executive agency government affairs practice focused on matters before the FCC and state public utilities commissions relating to low income telephone government programs.
I started my own law firm from the corner of my bedroom when our children were 7, 4 and 2, growing it to 32 people after ten years. Other experience includes serving as general counsel for a computer firm and a trade association, serving as campaign finance counsel for numerous state and local labor unions, corporations, national and state associations, candidates, caucuses and political action committees on state and federal election law, and representing neighborhood groups and developers on zoning, referendum and initiative election issues. Past experience also includes representing judges and judicial candidates before the Supreme Court concerning compliance with the Code of Judicial Conduct. Hold experience in drafting state legislation and administrative rules in areas of election law, local option elections, campaign finance, and ethics laws. Served as administrative partner of law firm.
(3) Why are you running for this particular court seat?
I love the law, I love Ohio and I enjoy helping people. I am privileged, having traveled to every county in this state when I served as Secretary of State, to have worked with Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections as we together served Ohioans.
I chose to run for the Ohio Supreme Court for three reasons: First, I want to be a part of a court that ensures that the first decision interpreting the state constitution’s new provisions for fair districts for Congress and the Ohio General Assembly, when challenged — and they will be — is fair and according to state constitutional requirements. As Secretary of State, my office sponsored a public contest to draw districts to show we could end gerrymandering. We used a formula that served as a basis for developing the state constitution’s formula for fair districts. We proved it could be done. Nothing is more basic to the health of Ohio’s democracy than fair districts, and I want to participate in any review of that process occurring after the 2020 census. I want to use my experience to the benefit of the court and the people of the State of Ohio.
Second, there are important issues such as when a police office can make an individual get out of their car, under what circumstances criminal records can be expunged, when someone’s home can be taken through foreclosure or when is it appropriate for legislative caps on damages (such as rape of a child by a trusted pastor) to be overcome. These issues are just a few that affect everyday people in Ohio, though many citizens often don’t realize how much they are affected by just the words of the state’s highest court.
Third, I have found that when there is a political balance on an appellate court, there is less a tendency to “group think.” Better decisions are likely to emerge when they involve the give-and-take of views and the softening of others through reasoned and respectful discussion and decision making. Currently, the political balance of the state’s high court is a state of unbalance with 5 Republicans and 2 Democrats. A 4-3 balance would, in my view, create some of the best decisions possible from the court. I hope to help provide that balance with my election.