Justice William M. O'Neill

(10-29-17) Current Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill has made his intentions known that he will consider a run as a Democratic candidate to become Ohio’s next Governor in a crowded primary field.

O’Neill has indicated he will remain on the bench during his run for office. The 70 year judge’s term will end January 1st, 2019, with plans to retire at that time.

Other Democrats looking to run for the office include, Attorney General Richard Cordray, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, Ohio Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni and former state Rep. Connie Pillich and Sherrod Brown.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor released a statement Sunday on O’Neill’s announcement that he is running for governor and a possible conflict with his upcoming announcement:

“I am aware that Justice William O’Neill has announced his intention to run for governor. I am also aware that Justice O’Neill has indicated that he intends to remain a member of the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future. Justice O’Neill’s decision to announce his candidacy is obviously a decision only he can make. His decision may, however, implicate a number of considerations that are governed by the Rules for the Governance of the Judiciary and the Code of Judicial Conduct. As such, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on his decision relative to those considerations. Under our current rules there is no mechanism by which this Court could require Justice O’Neill to recuse himself from any pending cases. I encourage Justice O’Neill to consider his future course of conduct in light of his oath of judicial office and the ethical obligations imposed upon all judges of this state, which are designed to protect the interests of litigants, the public’s trust and confidence in the fair administration of justice, and the institution of the judiciary as a separate branch of government.”

His background (from Supreme Court Website) –

Justice William M. O’Neill became the 156th justice to the Ohio Supreme Court on January 2, 2013. His life has been dedicated to public service. Justice O’Neill is a former judge, an army officer, a registered nurse, and an adoptive parent.

Prior to becoming a justice, Justice O’Neill served on the Eleventh District Court of Appeals from 1997 until 2007. He was most recently a registered nurse at Hillcrest Hospital, an affiliate of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He is also a former army officer, Vietnam veteran, and was both a newspaper and television reporter.

Justice O’Neill is a graduate of Ohio University, Cleveland Marshall College of Law, and Huron School of Nursing. Before being elected to the Eleventh District Court of Appeals, Justice O’Neill was an assistant attorney general for the state of Ohio from 1984 to 1996, representing the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and the Industrial Commission of Ohio. In private practice, he founded O’Neill & Brown in Geneva, Ohio, where he represented small businesses and individuals in both civil and criminal cases.

Justice O’Neill is a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Army and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal for his service during the Vietnam War. He served as the commanding officer of the Armored Cavalry Troop from Painesville, and retired from the Ohio National Guard as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) Lieutenant Colonel in 1996. In 2007, LTC O’Neill, US Army (Retired), was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.