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Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas - General Division (term commencing 2/9/2021)

Salary: $121,350 Term: 6 yrs Responsibilities: To preside at trials of both civil and criminal cases; to supervise the jury commission, grand jury, and other departments of the court.

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    Jennifer Branch

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    Elizabeth Callan

Biographical Information

What kinds of policies, if any, will you pursue to promote social and racial justice in our community? (500 characters)

Would you approve requests for no-knock warrants from law enforcement? If so, what considerations influence your decision? (500 characters)

How will you work to provide all defendants coming through your courtroom equal treatment, regardless of race, gender, ability to pay, or mental status? (500 characters)

Twitter @BranchForJudge
Occupation For 32 years I have been a trial lawyer representing the poor, victims of civil rights abuses, and people who have been discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, LGBT identity and disabilities.
Education In 1987, I graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Law cum laude, earning a J.D. degree. In 1984, I graduated from New York University with honors, earning a B.A. degree majoring in both Politics and Philosophy.
Experience I started practicing law in 1987 at Cincinnati Legal Aid representing low income families in complex litigation and housing. Since 1997 I have represented civil rights clients who were injured by government officials or discriminated against at work
Family I am married, am a stepmother and a grandmother.
Endorsements As of September 1, I have been endorsed by the Hamilton County Democratic Party, and the following PACs: Equality Cincinnati, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, Cinti Women's Political Caucus PAC, Friends of the Sentinels, Sherrod Brown, PG Sittenfeld, Bold New Democracy, Ohio Chapter of National Association of Social Workers, Cinti Federation of Teachers, Cinti AFL-CIO Labor Council, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 392, IBEW Voluntary Fund, UFCW, Gr. Cinti Building Trades
Affliations Democrat
Political Party Affiliation Democratic Party
As a common pleas court judge I would strive to make the parties, victims, witnesses, and lawyers feel that they were treated with respect and fairness in my courtroom. I always ask the judge in my client's cases to instruct the jurors that "all persons are equal before the law." This is an important reminder for everyone in the trial that no matter what position a person holds in the courtroom - all parties are equal under the law.
While as a judge I will decide each case on its merits, as a civil rights lawyer I am aware of the danger of no-knock warrants. In one case, a Black mother was holding her baby and shielding her children in the bedroom as she looked out to see who was breaking into their home. An officer charged up the stairs and shot and killed her and shot her baby. Her death was preventable. Had the police served the warrant in a less dangerous manner, her children would not be growing up motherless.
I will follow the code of conduct which prohibits judges from discriminating against persons on the basis of race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, and socioeconomic status. But I will go further and collect data on my decisions and those of my fellow judges to determine if our bail and sentencing decisions are implicitly biased.
Twitter @judgecallan
Occupation Judge
Education University of Cincinnati, B.A. University of Miami, J.D.
Experience Judge Callan has been an attorney for 15 years. She first found her love for justice working with the public defender, then advocated for victims of abuse as a prosecutor. Her last role was as a civil litigator handling complex business matters.
Endorsements Equality Cincinnati PAC FOP Queen City Lodge #69
Affliations Judge Callan has served on a board of Lighthouse Youth Services and the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati. She volunteers significant time to organizations helping the youth in Hamilton County, such as the Saturday Hoops program in Over-the-Rhine. Judge Callan and her family are parishioners at All Saints church. She is a Cincinnati Business Courier Forty Under Forty Recipient and a member of the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class 44.
As a fundamental belief, I treat all who enter the courtroom with dignity and respect. A person's background, where they are from, how much they earn, or his or her social/racial make-up does not matter to me--I work to make sure that justice is administered fairly in the courtroom. I also approach hiring staff with a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Outside of the courtroom, I participate and volunteer with organizations dedicated to social and racial justice in our community.
While I appreciate the inherent danger in the increasing use of no-knock warrants, the Code of Judicial Conduct does not permit me to disclose information "regarding the probable or actual decision in...a legal proceeding" before the court. Due to that restriction, I cannot state how I would decide such a request. I will emphasize that I took an oath to follow the law and I do that--I also use my independent judgment to make decisions. Overall, I take the community's safety very seriously.
Every day in the courtroom I draw on my experiences with the public defender and the prosecutor's office (as an advocate for child victims), to ensure I fully appreciate each litigant's experience and background. I take the time to listen, to understand the facts of each case, and to consider meaningful methods of problem solving and rehabilitation. I also make sure each attorney advocate in the courtroom is doing their job in this way. Equal treatment is what is expected with me as Judge.