A judge’s view on Ohio Issue 1

Mike Daugherty - Contributing columnist

Ohio Issue 1 contains a provision which would change the balance of power between separate branches of government. For this reason, I am voting “no” — and I urge all Ohioans to vote “no” on Issue 1.

In 2020, many states, including Ohio, saw changes to their laws regarding bail for persons accused of crimes. In 2022, an Ohio Supreme Court decision highlighted those changes.

In DuBose v. McGuffey, the Supreme Court told trial courts that when they decide the dollar amount of bail, they should only consider what it would take to get the accused person to attend court.

Many people disagreed with that decision, and Issue 1 is an attempt to change the Ohio Constitution in response.

If it only required trial judges to consider public safety, Issue 1 would be a good idea. I would support that. The problem is that this law goes too far.

The Constitution gives the Supreme Court the authority to set the rules for trial courts. This amendment would take away that authority by deleting a whole sentence of Article 1, Section 9.

Often, when politicians do something big, they include something else that they think nobody will notice. It happened here.

This time, however, that “something else” will strip away too much authority from the Supreme Court. It will take the power to make rules regarding the amount and conditions of bail, and hand that authority to the General Assembly.

There is a reason why the power of government has to be split between three separate branches. Fundamentally, we don’t trust the government.

Over and over again, we have watched powerful government officials prove why we don’t trust them.

If we are to remain a free society, and if Ohio is to remain a good place to live, we cannot let one branch of government take over. The three branches must have separate powers to keep them accountable to us — the people.

We are the bosses of all three branches.

If we disagree with how a state representative, a governor, or a justice does their job, we have the authority to replace that person at their next election.

We can do that without stripping that branch of government of the power needed to do its job. We can do it without giving too much power to a different branch, which might become a bigger problem in the future.

Issue 1 looks like it will protect the public, but it takes away something very important. That is like trying to treat an illness by poisoning the patient. We can do better.

I challenge the General Assembly to put forth an amendment which requires public safety considerations without changing the separation of powers. This preserves the balance of power and keeps all public servants accountable to the people of Ohio.

I am voting “no” on Issue One. I hope you will vote “no” too.

Mike Daugherty is Judge of the Clinton County Municipal Court.


Mike Daugherty

Contributing columnist