While political party control of the court is at stake, Brunner said, “to me, as a potential justice, no, it doesn’t matter.” There is no Democrat or Republican way to be fair but there is a different way to approach cases, she said. She argued that more balance brings less group think and more give and take in debates.
Brunner sidestepped a question about whether she’d step aside on cases in which a party before the court contributed more than $1,000 to her campaign.
She noted that judges are not supposed to make promises about their judicial conduct. She also said that judicial canons and the code of conduct direct judges to avoid the appearance of partiality.
Brunner said she’ll be an enthusiastic supporter of Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor’s criminal justice reforms that include changing how courts set bond and bail and take steps to improve data collection for all courts across Ohio. “I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness, I hope I win because I want to be a part of this,’” Brunner said.
Improved data collection will reveal big picture trends about how the courts operate, how justice is administered and whethera lack of uniformity exists from court to court, defendant to defendant, she said.
Brunner said the Ohio Supreme Court has a huge impact on everyday life for large swaths of Ohioans. For example, the court interprets foreclosure laws that determine how and when someone might lose their house; laws governing how and when someone who made a mistake can get their criminal records sealed; and laws dictating when and how police can conduct a search and seizure of citizens.
Brunner noted that she is a stickler on search and seizure cases. She wrote an opinion in the 10th District Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision about a search warrant executed on a private school drama teacher who was exploiting female students. Brunner ruled that the search warrant was narrowly tailored for the man’s school computer and didn’t extend to his home and personal computer, which police searched.
The Ohio Supreme Court overturned Brunner on the issue but she says the case illustrates that she believes the law and constitutional rights should be applied equally and fairly to all.
10th District Court of Appeals Judge Jennifer Brunner
Family: Married to attorney Rick Brunner; three adult children.
Political Party: Democrat
Political Experience: 10th District Court of Appeals judge, 2015-current; 2010 candidate for U.S. Senate; Ohio Secretary of State, 2007-2010; Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge, 2000-2005. Attorney since 1983.
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Miami University; law degree from Capital University.