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Ohio State Bar Association Commission on Judicial Candidates Announces Ohio Supreme Court Candidate Ratings for the 2018 Election

Columbus (Aug. 14, 2018) – The Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) Commission on Judicial Candidates today released its ratings for the 2018 General Election following a thorough evaluation of those seeking election this year to the Supreme Court of Ohio.

The 24-member, bipartisan panel chaired by OSBA Past-President Martin E. Mohler, Esq. scored each candidate according to their legal knowledge and ability, professional competence, judicial temperament, integrity and diligence, personal responsibility, as well as their public and community service. (Please see the attached description of the standards applied in each category). Out of 30 possible points, candidates receiving a total composite score of 25 or higher, based upon their average scores in each category, earned a rating of “Highly Recommended.” A score between 19 and 24 would garner a rating of “Recommended.” And those earning 18 or less, would be deemed “Qualified by Statute.” Each candidate was scored on an individual basis, without regard to whom they were facing on the November ballot.

The ratings and scores are as follows:

  • Judge Craig Baldwin was rated Highly Recommended, with a score of 25.
  • Justice Mary DeGenaro was rated Highly Recommended, with a score of 27.
  • Judge Michael Donnelly was rated Highly Recommended, with a score of 26.
  • Judge Melody Stewart was rated Highly Recommended, with a score of 29.

Scores were informed by an independent evaluation of the candidates by the Commission, including a written questionnaire and resume, as well as a review of each candidates’ decisions, writings, publications, letters of reference, docket reports, financial disclosure statements and other public records. Lawyers, judges and other citizens familiar with each candidate’s reputation, past performance and qualifications were consulted as part of the vetting. And finally, each candidate was interviewed individually by the Commission.

“When it comes to judicial elections, though judges make decisions that affect our everyday lives in countless ways, voters consistently report that they do not know enough about the candidates to make an informed decision.” Chairman Mohler said. “The OSBA has established this thorough and independent process in order to provide more context and good information to members of the bar as well as the public about the qualifications of the candidates seeking a seat on our state’s highest court.”

Members of the Commission are attorneys in good standing and members of the OSBA. They have been appointed by the President of the OSBA with the advice and consent of the OSBA Board of Governors. In order to be representative of the OSBA’s full membership, one member is chosen from each of the association’s 18 geographic districts, along with six at-large members to account for diversity. The Commission is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, and none may have connections with the campaigns of the judges being evaluated. Current members of the Board of Governors are not eligible to serve.

“I want to thank each of the candidates, the members of the Commission, and the OSBA for their commitment and contributions to promoting a better-informed electorate this November,” Mohler said.

In addition to providing ratings of candidates for Supreme Court of Ohio, the OSBA is a cosponsor of JudicialVotesCount.org, which provides non-partisan, biographical information on candidates for judge at every level, from the Supreme Court of Ohio to courts of appeals, common pleas courts, as well as municipal and county courts.

In addition, through its Judicial Election Campaign Advertising Monitoring Committee (JECAMC), the OSBA also keeps an eye on political advertising in Supreme Court races to ensure the candidates as well as outside organizations are held to the highest standards as outlined in Canon 4 of the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct. Just last week, the Committee announced that all four candidates for the Supreme Court of Ohio in 2018 had signed the JECAMC “Clean Campaign” pledge.

About the Ohio State Bar Association

The Ohio State Bar Association, founded in 1880, is a voluntary association representing approximately 26,000 members of the bench and bar of Ohio. Through its activities and the activities of its related organizations, the OSBA serves both its members and the public by promoting the highest standards in the practice of law and the administration of justice.

Standards Applied by the Commission on Judicial Candidates in Arriving at Composite Scores

Legal Knowledge & Ability (Scale: 1-5)

A candidate should possess a high degree of knowledge of established legal principles and procedures and have a high degree of ability to interpret and apply them to specific factual situations.

Professional Competence (Scale: 1-5)

Professional competence includes intellectual capacity, professional and personal judgement, writing and analytical ability, knowledge of the law and breadth of professional experience, including courtroom and trial experience. Candidates for appellate judge-ships should further demonstrate scholarly writing and academic talent, and the ability to write to develop a coherent body of law.

Judicial Temperament (Scale: 1-5)

A candidate should possess a judicial temperament, which includes common sense, compassion, decisiveness, firmness, humility, open-mindedness, patience, tact and understanding.

Integrity & Diligence (Scale: 1-5)

The candidate should be of high moral character and enjoy a general reputation in the community for honesty and industry.

Personal Responsibility (Scale: 1-5)

A candidate should be responsible in his or her personal life, including being financially responsible, abiding by the laws of this state and this country, and being committed to the fulfillment of tasks and duties in past positions.

Public & Community Service (Scale: 1-5)

Consideration should be given to a candidate’s previous service, including professional activities, public service and civic and community activities.

Insurance Checklist for College Students

Ohio Department of Insurance

August 14, 2018

COLUMBUS — Ohio Department of Insurance director Jillian Froment is reminding college students and their parents to ensure that adequate insurance protection is in place for the upcoming school year.

“An insurance review with an agent should be part of getting ready to go back to school,” Froment said. “Both students and parents will have that much more peace of mind knowing they have an up-to-date financial protection plan.”

Froment shared the following insurance insights:

Health Insurance

Dependent coverage: Any insurance plan or issuer that offers dependent coverage must remain available until the dependent reaches age 26. If it’s a managed care plan, the student could be outside the provider network and would have to travel within the network area to receive routine and lower-priced in-network care.

Student health plan: Most colleges and universities require students to have health insurance. Students without dependent coverage may opt to purchase a student health insurance plan. Many colleges and universities offer comprehensive plans and also provide a number of resources for parents and students to evaluate what option may be best for the student.

Dental and eye care: Routine dental and eye care generally are not included in a health insurance plan, although many colleges and universities offer dental and vision coverage options. Check with the school to learn more about the plans offered for students.

Homeowners and Renters Insurance

Parent’s policy: A parent’s homeowners insurance policy may cover their student’s personal possessions – for example books, bicycle, computer, television, furniture and clothes – in the event they are damaged, destroyed or stolen, as well as liability when living in an on-campus dorm. The parent’s policy will typically not provide personal property or liability coverage when the student lives in off-campus housing. Check with your insurer to determine if a renters policy should be purchased.

Special coverage limits: A typical homeowners insurance policy restricts coverage for certain types of personal property at or away from the residence. Depending on your specific policy, purchasing additional coverage may be necessary. When purchasing this additional coverage, talk to your agent to learn more about your policy. Be sure to inform your agent if the living arrangement will be on or off campus. A parent’s homeowners policy may not provide any coverage for personal property for any off-campus housing.

Renters insurance: Renters insurance can be secured to insure personal possessions and provide liability coverage in the event the student is held liable for causing bodily injury, property damage or financial loss to others in an off-campus living arrangement such a rented apartment, condominium or house in the absence of parent’s homeowners insurance.

Automobile Insurance

Vehicle at school: If a student plans to take a vehicle to school, talk to your agent about whether remaining on the family policy or securing their own policy is the best approach.

Vehicle not at school: If a student decides not to take a car to school, advise your insurance agent or company of the change because there may be an impact to your insurance premiums.

Discounts: Insurance companies may have discounts for students who show certain academic progress.

Athletic Competition and Sanctioned Events

Talk with a college or university official and an insurance agent about the insurance protections for athletic competition and when traveling for any type of sanctioned event or function.

People with insurance questions can contact the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526 and visit www.insurance.ohio.gov for information.

New Ohio Law Enforcement Body Armor Program with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced a plan to create a new program to help Ohio’s local law enforcement agencies purchase body armor vests. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has agreed to support funding the effort through a recent expansion of its safety grant program.

The BWC currently offers its Safety Intervention Grant Program to Ohio’s private and public employers to purchase equipment to reduce or eliminate injuries and illness associated with a particular task or operation. A portion of the Safety Intervention Grant Program funds will be used to fund the new Ohio Law Enforcement Body Armor Program, enabling local law enforcement agencies to receive up to $40,000 per agency to purchase body armor vests with a local match of 25 percent.

“I am pleased to be able to offer the new Ohio Law Enforcement Body Armor Program in partnership with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to help local law enforcement agencies with the costs associated with life-saving body armor vests,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “This new program will help our first responders get the latest body armor, helping to protect them while they do the important work of keeping their communities safe.”

In June, BWC announced that it would dedicate a portion of safety grants to prevent injuries and fatalities among law enforcement officers. Under an agreement between the Attorney General and BWC, the Ohio Law Enforcement Body Armor Program will be eligible for these funds through June 2019.

Beginning today, Ohio’s law enforcement agencies will be able to apply for the program through an application form that will be linked on the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG). Applications will be reviewed and awarded on a first-come, first served basis. Vests to be purchased must meet the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) standards, and agencies must demonstrate that they have a mandatory wear policy in place for uniformed officers on duty.

The Conversation

Facebook begins to shift from being a free and open platform into a responsible public utility

August 17, 2018

Anjana Susarla

Associate Professor of Information Systems, Michigan State University

Disclosure statement

Anjana Susarla does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners

Michigan State University

Michigan State University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

When Facebook recently removed several accounts for trying to influence the 2018 midterm elections, it was the company’s latest move acknowledging the key challenge facing the social media giant: It is both an open platform for free expression of diverse viewpoints and a public utility on which huge numbers of people – and democracy itself – rely for accurate information.

Under pressure from the public and lawmakers alike since 2016, Facebook responded in early 2018 by making significant changes to the algorithms it uses to deliver posts and shared items to users. The changes were intended to show more status updates from friends and family – sparking “meaningful interactions” – and fewer viral videos and news articles that don’t get people talking to each other. As a result, users have spent far less time on the site, and the company’s stock-market value has dropped.

Yet the problem remains: The very features of social media that encourage participation and citizen engagement also make them vulnerable to hate speech, fake news and interference in the democratic process. This inherent contradiction is what the company must resolve as it shifts from being just one startup company in a crowded marketplace of big-data businesses to a public information utility with monopoly power and broad social influence.

No longer a platform

Facebook continues to struggle with the intersection or convergence of three related developments over the past few years. My own research describes the first, the rise of social media networks designed for constant interaction and engagement with users. That enabled the second, getting rid of gatekeepers for news and information: Now anyone can post or share information, whether it’s true or not. And in the third development, these systems have given companies huge amounts of detailed personal information about their users, enabling them to display information – and paid advertisements – matched to an individual’s likes, political and religious views, hobbies, marital status, drug use and sexual orientation.

The company’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is most comfortable describing his creation in terms often used for technology firms, with words like like “connections” and phrases like “bring people closer together.” And the company is still structured as a regular corporation, responsible only for maximizing value for shareholders.

That mindset avoids the fact that Facebook wields societal power on an unprecedented scale. The company’s decisions about what behaviors, words and accounts it will allow govern billions of private interactions, shape public opinion and affect people’s confidence in democratic institutions.

Facebook used to be about extracting profit from data about its users. Now the company is starting to realize it needs its users’ trust even more than their information.

Becoming a utility

What the public expects from a technology company is substantially different from what people expect in, say, a water company or the landline telephone company. Utility companies need to be accountable to the public, offering transparency about their operations, providing accountability when things go wrong, allowing verification of their claims and obedience to regulations meant to protect the public interest.

I expect Facebook will face increasing pressure from politicians, government communications regulators, researchers and social commentators to go beyond filtering out fake news. Soon, the company will be asked to acknowledge what its actual role in democracy has become.

Technological advances mean what used to be extra services – like internet access and social media – are now necessary parts of modern life. Internet service providers are facing similar transitions, as the net neutrality policy debate lays ground rules for the future of an open internet.

Facebook has already signaled its understanding of that pressure – and not only with the algorithm changes and the shutdown of the fake accounts leading up to the midterm elections. In a recent court filing in California, Facebook claimed it was a publisher of information, protected by the First Amendment against possible government regulation.

It’s true that over-regulation does run the risk of censorship and limiting free expression. But the dangers of too little regulation are already clear, in the toxic hate, fake news and intentionally misleading propaganda proliferating online and poisoning democracy. In my view, taking no action is no longer an option.

The Conversation

Could different cultures teach us something about dementia?

August 17, 2018

Richard Gunderman

Chancellor’s Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy, Indiana University

Lily Wolf

Medical student , Indiana University School of Medicine

Disclosure statement

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners

Indiana University

Indiana University School of Medicine

Indiana University and Indiana University School of Medicine provide funding as members of The Conversation US.

Picture two different families, each dealing with a diagnosis of dementia in one of its members. In one case, the patient is a retired executive, whose family tries as long as possible to keep the diagnosis secret, relying primarily on professional caregivers and eventually a nursing home. In another case, the patient is a grandmother. As soon as the diagnosis is suspected, her family pulls together, bringing her into their home and surrounding her with affection.

These two approaches to dementia reflect very different attitudes toward the disease. One regards it as an irreversible neurologic condition associated with considerable stigma, a problem best left to health professionals and kept out of public view. While not denying that dementia is a medical condition, the other seizes on it as an opportunity to draw together around a loved one in need, giving family members not a secret to keep but an opportunity to care.

A disease of patients and their families

Dementias touch many lives. For example, the most common dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, currently afflicts 5.7 million Americans and is expected to afflict 14 million by 2050. This increase partly mirrors population growth. But because risk increases with age, the rise also reflects our success in battling other causes of death, such as heart disease and stroke, enabling people to live longer. And the effects of the disease are not confined to patients; 16.1 million Americans now provide uncompensated care to dementia patients.

If you asked a physician to define dementia, most of us would probably describe it as a neurodegenerative disorder marked by declining cognitive abilities and memory. While this account is true as far as it goes, there is a problem: attacking most types of dementia as strictly biological entities has largely failed to advance our ability to diagnose and treat it. In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, definitive diagnosis still requires a biopsy, and new drugs to prevent, retard, or reverse it have proved disappointing.

A cultural perspective

Perhaps the time has come to expand our thinking about dementia to encompass not only cellular but cultural perspectives. Our society needs to recognize that dementia is not only a brain disorder of the person suffering from it but also a social disorder that can be understood in a variety of different ways. In other contexts, such disorders tend to be viewed in light of a larger circle of social relationships and cultural traditions. All generalizations must be qualified, but we have much to learn from other cultures.

In Japan, for example, to age well is not only to avoid contracting diseases but also to maintain a circle of family and friends right up to the moment when we breathe our last. Being of sound mind and body means continuing to exert ourselves both mentally and physically, remaining deeply invested in our personal relationships and receiving help from and helping others. So long as we continue to enrich others’ lives, we can remain “whole” in ways that exceed the mere absence of a medical diagnosis.

A large segment of traditional Chinese culture tends to see such matters similarly. Confucianism places a premium on family, and the decline of cognitive capacities of those who have led long and full lives can be seen not as the onset of a disease but as an opportunity for friends and family to express how much they care. Assuming increasing responsibility for an aging loved one represents an opportunity to show how strong the family really is.

The Hindu culture of India also prizes the opportunity to care for parents. What Americans tend to regard as a lamentable medical condition can be seen as a part of life’s natural cycle and the passage into a second childhood. The emphasis is not on the stigma of dementia, but rather on a withdrawal from worldly affairs to focus on other more essential matters. When an older person begins to show such signs, it is time for a natural transfer of authority to younger members of the family.

Seeing dementia anew

Viewing dementia from the standpoint of other cultures can help Americans see it with fresh eyes and re-pose fundamental questions that lie at its heart. What, for example, is a person, and how is personhood situated in the larger context of family and community? How does such a condition relate to what it means to be a good person and lead a good life? To what degree does dementia fracture us and what are the possibilities that it could bring us closer together?

The point of such a cultural approach is not to argue that biomedical accounts of dementia are fundamentally wrong. In virtually any disease state, but especially with a condition such as dementia, the experience of patients and families involves social, moral, and even spiritual perspectives, no less than biological ones. Perhaps because of our high regard for self-sufficiency and independence, dementia in the U.S. it tends to be relatively stigmatized.

Conceiving of dementia in different terms could offer new opportunities for prevention and treatment. Suppose, for example, that we Americans viewed it in terms similar to physical fitness. If we do not utilize our mental, physical, and social capacities, they will tend to dwindle – use it or lose it. On the other hand, if we remain active and challenged in each of these spheres, contributing where we can to enrich the lives of others, we can ease the strain of dementia in our lives.

To be sure, healthy neurons require adequate rest, nutrition, and even medical care. But the health of a person is more than the functioning of cells. People also need opportunities to put abilities to the test, connect with others, and lead lives that make a real contribution. If we tend not only to our neurons but also our intellects, characters, and relationships, there is good reason to think that we can lighten dementia’s burden and make the most of the opportunities to care for those living with it.

The Conversation

Approval of first ‘RNA interference’ drug – why the excitement?

August 17, 2018

Single strands of ribonucleic acid (RNA) are now being used to treat disease.

Author

Thomas Schmittgen

Professor of Pharmaceutics, University of Florida

Disclosure statement

Thomas Schmittgen receives funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Partners

University of Florida

University of Florida provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

Small interfering RNA sounds like something from a science fiction novel rather than a revolutionary type of medicine. But this odd-sounding new drug offers a novel strategy for treating disease by targeting the root cause rather than just the symptoms. This is an exciting approach because it enhances the effectiveness of the treatment and reduces side effects.

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the very first therapeutic small interfering RNA (siRNA), Onpattro (patisiran), to treat nerve damage caused by a rare disease called hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis (hATTR). Hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis affects about 50,000 people worldwide. The major cause is the buildup of a protein called amyloid in the peripheral nerves, heart and other organs. Small interfering RNA was first described in 1998 and its discoverers were awarded the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine in 2006. Twenty years later the discovery has been translated into a new form of medicine.

Proteins make up the largest structural and functional portion of our cells and tissues. The instructions to make a particular protein is encoded in our DNA. In order for the protein to be made, DNA must first be transcribed into an intermediate molecule called messenger RNA, which is then translated into a protein. Simply put, DNA makes RNA makes protein.

A disease such as hATTR is caused by excessive amyloid protein. One solution to overcoming these defects is to limit the protein from being made in the first place.

That’s where siRNA comes in.

The beauty of RNA drugs like Onpattro lies in its specificity. Onpattro is a small stretch of RNA that “interferes” with its counterpart mRNA. If the Earth represents a cell and all of the train tracks on Earth represents the RNA within that cell, Onpattro works by inhibiting a specific sequence of RNA; disrupting a stretch of train track that connects Pittsburgh and Cleveland. After Onpattro binds to its target, molecular scissors within the cell precisely cut the RNA preventing production of the amyloid protein.

The black strand is the mRNA that encodes the instructions for building the amyloid protein. When the small interfering RNA (red) binds its counterpart mRNA, ‘molecular scissors’ in the cell destroy the mRNA, and prevent the protein from being made. Thomas Schmittgen, CC BY-ND

Although this siRNA strategy seems elegant and precise, it is not without challenges. Delivering the drug to the proper location within the body and the high costs associated with producing these complex therapeutics are hurdles that must be overcome before these drugs are widely adopted.

To improve the delivery of the drug to its target in patients, it must be protected from destruction in the blood stream. To accomplish this, Onpattro has been encapsulated in a protective fatty nanoparticle. The cost of treating hATTR with Onpattro is estimated at US$450,000 per patient per year.

There is also continued research and development of RNA-based therapies to treat disorders caused by changes in the cell triggered by a close cousin of siRNA, called microRNA. RNA drugs offer a new weapon in the arsenal to treat disease by blocking the production of specific cellular proteins. With the approval of Onpattro, one can anticipate applying RNA therapeutics to treat other genetic diseases such as cancer, which is partly caused by excessive or hyperactive proteins.

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Staff Reports