Judge Keila Cosme – Lady Justice or Judicial Activist?

In light of recent court decisions in Arizona and California, by what some would call “rogue” judges; it would behoove us to examine if we have potential judicial activists currently on or running for the bench in NW Ohio. Before I begin though, I would like to state that I am by no means a legal expert, so I won’t be making any attempts at examining case law. That being said neither are most of the people who will be voting in November, so it would seem more prudent to examine the information that the campaigns are asking voters to use when deciding on their candidate. So who does Judge Keila Cosme better personify?

Lady Justice – Outside many courthouses throughout the country, this maiden is typically seen wearing a blindfold, holding a scale and in some cases, a sword as well. The blindfold is thought to indicate that justice should be objective without fear or favor, regardless of identity, money, power or weakness, while the scales are supposed to provide an avenue for measuring the strengths and weaknesses of a case’s support and opposition.

Judicial Activist – According to Black’s Law Dictionary, judicial activism is defined as a “philosophy of judicial decision-making whereby judges allow their personal views about public policy, among other factors, to guide their decisions.” Rulings are suspected of being based on personal or political consideration rather than existing law.

Appointed to the 6th District Court of Appeals in October 2009 by Governor Strickland, Judge Cosme lays out on her campaign website (http://judgecosme.com) what she feels are the qualities she brings to the bench. Utilizing the definitions above, we should be able to determine if those qualities are more “Lady Justice” or “Judicial Activist”.

“Our judicial system works because the community trusts that matters coming before the court will be decided fairly and impartially. Like our nation, the strength of the judiciary is enhanced by diversity; diversity of legal experience, of culture, and of background. Ultimately, our judiciary is best able to administer justice when its composition reflects that of the communities it serves.”

Round 1 – Judicial Activist: One would think that our judiciary is best able to administer justice when it only reflects the law as written.

“I cherish my citizenship in this great nation – where everyone has an opportunity to turn their dreams into reality. I was blessed with the good fortune to experience life from many disparate perspectives; from a large corporate litigator, as well as a loving mother; as a minority, yet educated among the privileged. I have advocated on behalf of impoverished children from broken homes with no voice, as well as for the rights of organized labor and its members. This unique insight drives my pursuit of fair and equal justice for all”.

Round 2 – Judicial Activist: While experiencing “disparate” perspectives or advocating on behalf of children in a previous profession is certainly laudable, why should that “unique insight” drive the pursuit of justice? Last time I checked a crime was still a crime regardless if the individual was minority or not and last time I checked a judge’s decision should be based on the law as written and not because someone is or isn’t from a privileged background.

“In October of 2009 Governor Strickland appointed me to the Sixth District Court of Appeals, where I continue to serve today. And I continue to be guided by the fundamental principles of fairness and impartiality. The Sixth District Court of Appeals serves 8 counties: Erie, Fulton, Huron, Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Williams, and Wood. For most cases, the court of appeals is the court of last resort. I am fully committed to work tirelessly to ensure that the rule of law is upheld.”

Round 3 – Lady Justice: While “fairness” seems to be a little subjective, being fully committed to ensuring that the rule of law is upheld should be the focus of every judge.

Throughout her website, Judge Cosme mentions her advocacy for the rights of working people as well as the rights of organized labor and its members. This begs the question of why spotlight the needs of organized labor and not just stop at the rights of working people? To answer that question, one would only need to take a closer look at some of Judge Cosme’s endorsements:

  • Northwestern Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council
  • United Labor Council
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 8
  • Toledo Federation of Teachers
  • AFSME Council 8
  • International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 7
  • United Association of Plumbers, Steamfitters and Service Technicians Local 50
  • Ironworkers Local 55

Round 4 – Judicial Activist: Specifically mentioning advocating for the rights of organized labor and then essentially having only organized labor endorsements (outside of party endorsements) raises a red flag about whether this affiliation will guide decision making.

Finally in an interview with La Prensa (http://www.laprensatoledo.com/Stories/2010/042310/cosme.htm), it was noted that:

“One of the issues that is so important as voters look at punching the ballot for the Court of Appeals, says Cosme, is for them to gain an appreciation for having diversity on the bench. She believes that her background, particularly given the current homogenous makeup of the appellate bench, will make an important difference in the judicial process.”

In addition, Judge Cosme was quoted as saying; “We need an exposure to other cultures and ideas…The contribution that [each judge] brings to the caucus is critical and my experiences will bring something to that caucus”.

Round 5 – Judicial Activist: Diversity for diversity’s sake at any level of the judiciary is a dangerous precedent to be setting. Telling voters that anything is more important than adherence to the law as written almost seems fraudulent.

Looking at her own words, voters must seriously consider the pitfalls of electing someone with apparent activist tendencies like Judge Cosme. While it appears she is committed to ensuring the rule of law is upheld, the law won't be the only thing guiding her decisions. And if that's the case, you need to ask yourself before voting whether you want a judge who will interpret and render decisions based on the law as written or a judge who thinks it is appropriate to use the bench as tool for celebrating diversity? Last time I checked there is only one Constitution, one Ohio Revised Code, etc. and not separate versions for those with different skin colors, backgrounds or employment affiliations. Remember justice is supposed to be blind and objective without fear or favor, regardless of identity, money, power or weakness.

Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (5 votes)

Anyone would be better than Yarbrough.


The guy stole money from the tax payer by double billing for time he never worked. We have a guy from TPS going to jail for billing for photo copiers that were never received, but this guy only has to say “sorry” and pay back the money; that’s garbage. Stealing is stealing. This should be serving time, not serving on the bench.

Yarbrough has 10 speeding tickets along with other various other driving issues including a DUI. Again, I guess he thinks the law doesn’t apply to him.

Add on top of that things like coercion, his temperament and he’s the guy who gave First Energy/Toledo Edison free reign to remove trees from private property.

The judge's job is to interpret the law as written...period. I would not be in favor of anyone who would legislate from the bench. That's why we elect representatives to go to Columbus and Washington, D.C.

Political Championship Wrestling- putting politics in proper perspective by presenting it as pro wrestling.

Coming in January, a political satire about the sorry state of American Politics- Jesusland vs. Progressiveville.

it is good to have that kind of information when going to the ballot box. Thanks for looking out!

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