Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Portrait Honors Six Decades of Service to Law

Justice Andrew “Andy” Douglas left his mark on many Ohioans as an attorney and judge dedicated to solving legal problems for 61 years.  Family, friends, and colleagues came together to celebrate the justice’s life and career during his portrait dedication ceremony at the Supreme Court of Ohio.

“It was overwhelming to walk into the room and see the number of people and really feel what others felt about him. I loved him, but the love in the room really showed through,” said his wife, Sue Douglas.

Justice Douglas, the 139th person to serve on the Supreme Court, passed away at 89 in September 2021.

The late justice’s wife recently donated the portrait to the Supreme Court for permanent display at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center. The painting by artist and retired Dayton-area attorney Greg Gibson depicts a smiling Douglas wearing his judicial robe, holding two items he always had on hand.

“He used the red pen to correct people [in legal drafts], and he used the pocket constitution to educate people [about the law],” said Paul Scott, a friend and attorney.

Originally from Toledo, Justice Douglas spent the first 20 years of his career working as a private attorney and city councilman. As he helped individuals with legal issues, he also focused on resolving problems that impacted the city. He helped with negotiations when police and firefighters went on strike on the same day, leaving the city without public safety for 48 hours.

“He grabbed the city by the collar, and he grabbed the union by the collar, and he dragged us into a room, and we didn’t leave until we settled that contract, and it was actually a fair contract for both sides,” said George Gerken, a friend of the justice for 50 years.

Justice Douglas used his bipartisan skills on the bench to protect equal rights under the law. He started on the Sixth District Court of Appeals in northwest Ohio, and served as a Supreme Court justice for 18 years. He retired due to a constitutional mandate that prevents judges from seeking office after they turn 70.

“He had a view of equality for all Ohioans. When he donned the robe, he was a champion of a transparent judiciary and of fairness under the law,” said Chief Justice Sharon L. Kennedy.

Justice Douglas’ most prominent decisions shaped case law to ensure that the rights of people and institutions weren’t overlooked. Some of his decisions advanced civil and individual rights, particularly for minorities. Others expanded First Amendment rights and the state’s open record laws. His most notable cases helped reshape how schools are funded in Ohio.

“His motto and he lived it, was “to do the right thing, not the easy thing.” It got him in a lot of hot water with a lot of people, but he did it anyway. He held true to his convictions,” said Gerken.