TROY — Judge Marilyn Zayas said she will be an independent and impartial voice on the Ohio Supreme Court if elected. She wants voters to know they have options ahead of Election Day on Nov. 8, 2022.
Zayas is seeking to win the six-year-term justice seat on the Ohio Supreme Court which her opponent Justice R. Patrick DeWine currently holds.
“All I want a fair chance,” Zayas said when she recently visited Miami Valley Today to talk about the upcoming race. Her desire is to remove partisan politics from the Ohio Supreme Court.
Zayas, 58, has served on the 1st Ohio District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati since she was first elected in 2016. She is the only Latina judge to have served on Ohio’s appellate bench. Zayas was appointed to sit in on cases as a visiting judge on the 2nd, 6th, 8th and 10th District Courts of Appeals. She was also selected by the Ohio Supreme Court’s chief justice to be a sitting judge on the Ohio Supreme Court for a recused justice. Prior to coming to the Court of Appeals, she ran her own law firm for numerous years.
“I am grateful that the good people of Ohio have entrusted me to serve as their judge. I take my responsibility very seriously, and I am committed to ensuring justice is administered with integrity, independence, and impartiality,” Zayas said.
One of five kids with Puerto Rico-born parents, she grew up in a rough neighborhood in Spanish Harlem, New York. Zayas said she had no choice other than to succeed.
“Growing up in a neighborhood, with drugs and crime, all I wanted was a fair chance,” Marilyn said as recalled her mother walking her to and from school everyday, and being confined to her home to play where she was safe. “I don’t consider myself to be an inspiration. I had no choice but to succeed; I was either going to be a statistic or I was not.”
Zayas realized she wanted to become a lawyer when she went with her mother to court to help translate for her during her parents’ custody battle.
“It was then I saw the impact the courts and the law has on people’s lives,” Zayas said. “I knew that someday I wanted to be an attorney. Everyone who knew me knew I was going to become an attorney one day.”
Zayas lived at home with her mother while attending City College in New York, where she graduated with a degree in computer science. She later came to Ohio for a job in 1988 at Procter & Gamble as an IT manager until 1994. She never gave up on her dream to become an attorney and later graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1997.
After law school she worked for the office of the Hamilton County public defender, eventually owned her own private practice before joining the appellate court.
Zayas was elected to Ohio’s First District Court of Appeals in 2016 and then in 2018, she received more than 60% of the vote to win re-election. She says her commitment to the rule of law and nonpartisan approach to interpreting it is why she believes she re-elected.
When asked why she chose run for the Supreme Court, Zayas said she wants to get politics out of the Ohio Supreme Court, aims to restore integrity, and restore the public’s confidence in the court.
Zayas then briefly spoke about a recent court case which she feels shows partisanship in the court. In December 2016, before Ohio Supreme Court Justices Judith Ann Lanzinger and Paul Pfeifer retired, the court ruled it was unconstitutional in Ohio for juveniles accused of specific offenses to have their legal proceedings automatically transferred to adult court systems once they’ve reached a certain age. The court then reconsidered the case in 2017 after the new Justices Pat DeWine and Pat Fischer were sworn-in.
Zayas noted a motion to reconsider a case that had already been ruled upon was very rare with “less than 1% of them ever granted.” She said, shockingly, the court’s original ruling was reversed.
When asked about the “Issue 1,” which derives from the 2022 DeBose case, that DeWine said she supports, Zayas said the statute is already clearly defined for judges. In the DeBose case, the defendant appealed the $1,500,000 bail handed down by the judge, and the Ohio Supreme Court over-ruled that decision, which allowed for the reduction of the bail amount by two-thirds down to $500,000 for the alleged violent offender. DeWine was in the dissent, voting as one of the three justices who was in favor of allowing judges to consider public safety when setting bail. Zayas pointed out the fact that under the current law, if a defendant is considered to be a risk, they are not to be released from jail. The case was so controversial Ohio State Legislature put a constitutional amendment, “Issue 1” on the November ballot that would overrule the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision.
“I believe the good people of Ohio want a good judge they can trust,” Zayas said. “Once I get in there, I’m not going to care about re-election. Whatever happens after the next six years (if elected), I don’t care.”
Zayas lives in the Hamilton County area, is single and is the mother of three grown children, along with two adopted rescue dogs.
For more information about Zayas’s campaign, visit https://judgemarilynzayas.com/