New rule would force Ohio judges seeking office to resign

COLUMBUS (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court is proposing a new rule that would make clear that judges who are actively campaigning for a non-judicial office must step down from the bench.

A public comment period on the proposed rule change opened Wednesday.

The proposal follows then-Justice William O’Neill’s decision to remain on the court from Oct. 29, when he announced his candidacy for governor, until Jan. 26. O’Neill, a Democrat, said he wouldn’t be a “candidate” until he filed the paperwork.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor challenged O’Neill’s decision as a violation of the judicial code of conduct and state Rep. Niraj Antani started removal proceedings.

The new rule says judges become a “candidate” when they make a public announcement, file candidacy paperwork or begin soliciting contributions — whichever comes first.