The Task Force On Judicial Excellence

In the fall of 2009, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (CMBA) President Mike Ungar tapped Common Pleas Judge Tim McMonagle and Thompson Hine Attorney Jim Robenalt to form and head a task force that would study the strengths and weaknesses of the system through which Ohioans elect their judges, and then recommend improvements.

Publicly launched in June 2010, the Task Force is comprised of experienced local attorneys representing a wide spectrum of practices.  In addition, in October of this year, the chairs of the Cuyahoga County Democratic and Republican parties accepted invitations to join the Task Force.

Co-chair Robenalt and the CMBA have more than a decade of experience in educating voters on the qualifications of judicial candidates through Judge4Yourself, a website that provides judicial candidate ratings from four bar associations and two local newspapers.  The mission of the Task Force, however, goes beyond educating voters; the group is tasked with finding innovative ways the county can attract, elect, and train a highly qualified judiciary.

The Task Force's initial efforts will be directed at gathering information and ideas.  Monthly public forums will explore current electoral practices and procedures and elicit suggestions on how we can improve on them.  In addition, the Task Force will review articles and studies examining state models for judicial elections from across the country and interview academic, statehouse, and civic leaders who have crafted and participated in judicial election models in other states.  After collecting as many perspectives as possible, the Task Force will present recommendations for ensuring the ongoing quality and stability of this critical third branch of government.