William O’Neill says he’s leaving state’s high court in January

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill says he will leave the court late next month after previously affirming that he plans to remain a candidate in the Democratic gubernatorial primary race.

O’Neill has told The Associated Press that he informed Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor on Friday morning that Jan. 26 will be his final day on the high court. The candidate-filing deadline for the gubernatorial primary is Feb. 7.

O’Neill’s statements about his candidacy and retirement have come amid efforts by the Republican-controlled Legislature to oust him from the court.

Lawmakers have said O’Neill is violating the Judicial Code of Conduct by running for another office while remaining on the bench. State Representative Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) initiated a House Concurrent Resolution last month starting the process for Justice O’Neill’s removal from the Supreme Court.

“While I am pleased to see Justice O’Neill listen to my demand for him to step down from the bench or be removed, the reality is this resignation announcement is long overdue,” Antani said in a statement. “As indicated by my House resolution that would remove him from the Court, Bill O’Neill should have immediately removed himself from the Ohio Supreme Court the minute he declared himself a gubernatorial candidate, as is constitutionally required.

“For over a month, O’Neill has left Ohio in a constitutional crisis. Unfortunately, for him to resign on January 26 is unacceptable; it would leave justice unserved at the highest level for another seven weeks. Justice O’Neill should immediately resign from the Court, or my Concurrent Resolution to remove him from the Court should immediately be voted on by the House. Once Justice O’Neill is removed from the Supreme Court by my resolution, the Ohio Supreme Court will finally be able to return to the high moral and ethical standard that Ohioans deserve.”

O’Neill has argued he won’t be a candidate for purposes of the rule until he files the paperwork.Grab the FREE WDTN News App for iPhone or Android. Stay up to date with all the local news, weather and sports as well as live newscasts and events as they happen. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all the latest news, weather and sports.

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