Justice Paul E. Pfeifer went back to his roots during the 67th session of Off-Site Court where the Ohio Supreme Court justices traveled to Crawford County on October 23. The Off-Site Court program lets students observe Supreme Court arguments in person when the justices visit different counties across the state.
Justice Pfeifer grew up on his family's dairy farm north of Bucyrus, and he was happy the program took him near his hometown. Through his years as a trial and tax lawyer and working on both sides of the General Assembly, Justice Pfeifer never lost his desire to farm. He currently raises Black Angus cattle in Crawford County while serving his fourth term as a Supreme Court justice.
"When you grow up on a farm it never quite gets out of your blood so I've been blessed to be able to do this. For me, it's my golf, it's my boat," Justice Pfeifer said. "I'm not known as Justice Pfeifer or Judge Pfeifer at home. I'm known as Paul and you would see me in blue jeans in my pickup truck."
About 700 students from seven high schools across the county participated in the Off-Site Court session held at Bucyrus Secondary School.
"The goal of the Off-Site Court program is to teach students a little more about our judicial system, so holding court in a high school campus is an excellent opportunity to expose students to this court in action," Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said.
Before they heard oral arguments, the seven justices spoke with about 200 of the high school students. The students were also debriefed on the cases by the attorneys who argued the case, helping enhance the students' understanding of the legal system.
"I'm in government right now so actually seeing it in the real world and all the words and definitions and stuff that we do in the classroom, and then to put into what they actually do for a job was a great experience, and I was honored to come," said Hannah Kocher, Wynford High School student.
The Ohio Supreme Court has held the biannual Off-Site Court program for 26 years.
Background information and a video illustrating the program, including footage from past Off-Site Court sessions, are available on the Supreme Court Web site.