On Nov. 3, two 11th District Court of Appeals judges will compete for a seat on the court as Matt Lynch runs against Timothy P. Cannon. The six-year term commences on Feb. 1.
Though both currently are serving on the appeals court, Judge Lynch is running for the seat now occupied by Judge Cannon. If he wins and vacates his current seat, Judge Lynch would gain two additional years on the court.
“I think the primary difference between the two of us is that he’s been in office for 14 years now and I’m a big believer in term limits,” Judge Lynch, 69, said of his opponent. “I don’t think any elected official should stay in office for decades. You just become too complacent.”
Judge Lynch, who had a legal practice in Bainbridge, said he would work to grant power to the citizens to help them understand how to navigate a complicated society.
The most important cases that his court faces, he said, are ones in which an individual is interacting with a state agency.
“We have such an alphabet soup of state agencies today that write their own regulations for the most part,” said Judge Lynch, a Republican. “The citizen is left to somehow know or understand how those regulations affect their life or their business.
“I always take the opinion that the citizen is a free citizen and his right to constitutional freedom is being protected. If the state is going to infringe on that, they best have the appropriate power from the legislature. Those cases are perhaps the cases where I have the strongest voice.”
Judge Cannon, 65, a Democrat, said he would continue to advocate for better efficiency in the 11th district.
“I think (the pandemic has) been a bit of an eye-opening experience for most of us,” he said. “For example, if scheduling a case is a problem because one judge or attorney can’t make it, we’re going to be able to resolve that by having remote participation. I don’t think the work suffers at all. I think we’ll be able to improve our efficiency even more.”
During his time on the appeals court, Judge Cannon said he and the other judges worked to make the court run more smoothly by reducing the time it takes to resolve a case, from an average of six months down to two.
“At the top of the wish list would be to convert all five of our counties to electronic filing, so we can both reduce paper and eliminate the need to transfer paper documents,” he concluded.
Judge Lynch said that his judicial philosophy comes from a place of fairness.
“Fairness is achieved by following the constitution and seeking justice,” he said, citing transparency as key to ensuring that justice is served. “One of the things I encouraged our court to do two years ago is open up a Facebook page and put our hearings online so people can watch because nobody knows what we do.
“Unfortunately that hasn’t happened because other judges didn’t think that was a great idea, but the more transparency we have, the more understanding the public has of what we do, the better off we are,” he said.
Judge Cannon said the straightforward approach he takes to his work on the bench also improves his chances in the election.
“The important thing to me and one of the most important things you can do as a judge is to just deal with the case that’s before you,” he explained. “I know I’ve issued some opinions that could be considered conservative or liberal, but it’s just a matter of ruling on the case before you and not worrying about what it’s going to look like in the paper. Essentially, I don’t have an agenda.”
Judge Cannon said experience matters. “Six years ago when I ran for re-election, I got one of the highest ratings ever from the local bar association. I continued to work at it and I think I’m a better judge now than I was six years ago. And I think bringing the experience and knowledge that I’ve acquired over the last 13 years will be very helpful in the service of my last term.”
Judge Lynch assumed office on the appeals court in 2019 with his current term ending Feb. 8, 2025. He is a former Republican member of the Ohio House of Representatives for District 76.
Judge Cannon of Painsville was appointed to the 11th District Court of Appeals in 2007 and was elected to his first full term in 2008 and his second term in 2014.
The 11th District Court, based in Warren, includes Trumbull, Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Portage counties.