Sometimes the public is not as aware of the decisions made in the local and state appeals courts unless it is a high profile case. Even then, they may never see the reasons those decisions are made, or how each of the judges on the panel votes or why they choose to vote in that manner. As a victim advocate for more than 25 years, I have sat in on or read many of those decisions imposed by the 11th District Court of Appeals and kept abreast of the individual judges written opinions. Incumbent Judge Mary Jane Trapp has consistently shown me that she has been fair and impartial in her decisions. Watching her in court, she is always prepared, asks good questions of both the prosecutor and defense attorney and exhibits both knowledge of the law and common sense; all done while keeping the victim's perspective in mind. I have never read a decision from her that left me wondering how she reached her opinion.
I am not a person who likes to say or write the negative about political opponents. I like to remain positive of the ones I would elect. However, in this case, I need to remind you that when former 11th District Judge Colleen O'Toole was on the bench back in 2008, she dissented on Danny Lee Hill, stating that he was developmentally disabled and therefore exempt from execution. Of all the judges in the state of Ohio that have been involved in his case, she is the only one to take that stand.
If this was the only case of which Ms. O'Toole offered a different opinion, I would say "so be it." But, there is a pattern to her opinions and sometimes she will give no reason why she chooses to vote the opposite of her colleagues. It seems she is agenda driven and holds sympathy toward the defendant's side. Perhaps this is why her own party refused to nominate her to a second term. There was a case where two witnesses said the defendant had a gun in a robbery. Because the gun did not appear on the video camera, she said "no gun."
Every defendant deserves checks and balances and so does the victim. The 11th District Court of appeals is all about those checks and balances, and since this is the first court to hear arguments after a trial, the opinions written set the foundation for the higher courts to rule. I believe the only way our Appeals Court will continue to give us the best checks and balances is to keep Judge Mary Jane Trapp sitting on the bench and offering her ''fair and just'' decisions.