Currently, the all-Republican Ohio Supreme Court fails to
truly represent the interests of all Ohioans.
“The decisions made at the Ohio Supreme Court affect
everybody, either directly or indirectly,” said Stewart, who
sits now on the Eighth District Court of Appeals in Cuyahoga
County, in an interview last week. “The Supreme Court gets
to decide which cases to hear, and so from the very
beginning it’s important that there are diverse perspectives
on the court to decide which issues are of great importance
to the state, because that’s how cases get in for review.”
If you have a group of Supreme Court justices comprised of
individuals who are all from the same political party, she
said, that lends itself to group-think. It’s better, she
said, to have justices with diverse perspectives and
backgrounds to represent those perspectives and backgrounds
on the court when cases are being considered for review as
well as when they are being decided.
Stewart is a native Ohioan, born and raised in Cuyahoga
County, who received her baccalaureate from the
College-Conservatory of Music at the University of
Cincinnati -- “What else would I study in college with a
name like Melody?” she joked.
Stewart then earned her law degree from Cleveland State
University's Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and her Ph.D.
from Case Western Reserve University's Mandel School of
Applied Social Sciences.
After working as an assistant law director, Stewart began a
career in education. She lectured, taught, and worked as an
assistant dean at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. She
later joined the faculty there and taught classes on ethics
and professional responsibility, criminal law, criminal
procedure, and legal research, writing and advocacy.
Stewart highlighted a number of ways courts can increase
trust and confidence in the justice system, first pointing
toward the need for more efficiency.
“It takes cases a very long time to wind through our court
system," she said. “I think we in the judiciary need to be
more responsive to the people we serve. We need to improve
our use of technology. Where you live in the state should
not dictate whether you can file a court document
She also emphasized the need to create better access to the
justice system regardless of financial means, not only for
criminal matters but also for some civil cases like those
dealing with consumer matters.
“We need more legal aid and assistance available to help
people get out of some dire circumstances that may be
remedied simply by having legal counsel, having someone who
knows how to help remedy collateral consequences of criminal
convictions, credit issues and the like," she said.
She suggested working with groups toward more workshops and
clinics throughout the state where legal professionals are
available to give consultation and advice.
Stewart said she isn’t running for the Ohio Supreme Court to
advance her career but rather because she believes in good
government and good public service which she has constantly
demonstrated throughout her career and have some balance on
the Supreme Court. She thinks that it’s naive at best and
maybe insulting at worst to believe the public can have
confidence in the highest level of our judiciary being
comprised of justices who all belong to the same political
“I’m running because, in addition to my diverse background,
experience, education, and perspectives, a value-added
component of my candidacy is that I am a nominee from a
party that is different from the entire makeup of our
Supreme Court,” she said. “I am also running because I am
committed to improving our judicial system. When you are
privileged to have attended some of the best colleges and
universities our state has to offer, gain a wealth of work
and people experiences, operate in a way that does not
abandon common sense and always try to constantly be aware
of your own implicit or unconscious bias in making
decisions, those things operate together to produce better
outcomes all the way around. That's what the people of Ohio
deserve -- and that's exactly what they'll get with my
election to the Supreme Court."