News - Capital University Law School

Associate Dean Anderson Discusses Barriers to Implementing Judicial Database

7/6/2021  - 

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Scott Anderson recently authored the article, “Anticipating the Judicial Response to Ohio’s Proposed Statewide Sentencing Database,” which was published in the April 2021 issue of Federal Sentencing Reporter.

Professor Anderson, who teaches Criminal Litigation Drafting and Legal Research and Writing, as well as a research seminar in Criminal Responsibility, wrote about a statewide sentencing database being advanced by Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor.

In his article, Anderson noted that before discussing the database, the Chief Justice swore in new members of the Ohio Judicial Conference, which promotes the interests of state judges to the Ohio General Assembly. Anderson opined that the proposed statewide sentencing database does not fully consider valid concerns of those judges.

“The hope is that the anticipated judicial response will provide a more realistic picture of the systemic barriers to creating and implementing the Chief Justice’s proposal,” Anderson stated in the article. Primary among judges’ concerns are preserving discretion, providing proportionate sentencing, honoring local norms and maintaining accountability.

Anderson further noted that a statewide database could be used to predict future sentencing behavior and could be wielded as a political weapon in judicial elections. In addition, Anderson said sentencing records may not accurately reflect equal access to justice given that judges can only rule on the cases before them, not on whom police officers decide to arrest or prosecutors choose to charge.

“After sentencing, judges don’t want to be pigeonholed or scapegoated,” Anderson concluded. “Any serious attempt to institute a statewide sentencing database must take into account these legitimate concerns. Ignoring them invites another quarter-century of justice delayed.”