COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republican Gov. Mike DeWine picked long-time Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters on Thursday to be the newest Ohio Supreme Court justice.
Deters will fill the seat that Justice Sharon Kennedy is vacating on Dec. 31 to become chief justice. Republican Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a key swing vote on the court, was barred from running again because of age limits.
Deters has built a reputation as a tough, pragmatic and respected prosecutor. He joins three other Republicans on the court — Kennedy, DeWine’s son Pat and Justice Pat Fischer. The new lineup is expected to offer a more reliable 4-3 majority coalition for the GOP, which must revisit legislative and congressional maps before 2024 that were repeatedly declared unconstitutional by the current court.
“Joe is a long-serving and well-regarded public servant who is known for his legal intellect, reverence for the rule of law, and his accessibility,” DeWine said in a statement.
Deters served six years as Ohio’s state treasurer, leaving halfway through his second term amid a pay-to-play scandal.
Deters — at the time a rising Republican star — was never charged, or even implicated in the scheme, but the convictions in 2004 of his former chief of staff and fundraiser, and a lobbyist who prosecutors found served as intermediary between campaign cash and favorable treatment at the treasury, damaged his aspirations of winning higher political office.
He resigned to run again in 2004 as prosecutor in Hamilton County and has held that job ever since.
Last year, DeWine appointed Deters’ brother, Dennis, to a full term on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.