Andrew Grant Douglas

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Andrew Grant Douglas was regarded by many of his colleagues in the legal profession as one of the most intelligent and best-prepared members of the Supreme Court of Ohio. He served three terms on the high court from 1985 to 2002.

Douglas was born in 1932 in Toledo to Andrew and Elizabeth Douglas. He attended the University of Toledo, where he earned his law degree in 1959. From 1954 to 1956, he served in the U.S. Army Infantry and Signal Corps and obtained the rank of first lieutenant.

In 1960, Douglas co-founded the law firm of Winchester & Douglas. He practiced law in Toledo and Lucas County for 20 years. His resume also includes service as special counsel to the attorney general of Ohio.

In 1961, at age 29, he was one of the youngest men elected to Toledo City Council. He was re-elected nine times, serving until 1980.

In 1980, Douglas was elected to the 6th District Court of Appeals. By appointment of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio, he sat as a trial judge for the common pleas courts in various counties during 1982 and 1983. From 1980 to 1984, he was an instructor at the University of Toledo Community and Technical College.

In 1984, Douglas defeated Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas Judge John Corrigan for Justice of the Supreme Court. He was re-elected in 1990 and 1996. During that time, he also taught at Ohio Dominican College from 1992 to 1995.

During the 1990s, Justice Douglas and Justices Alice Robie Resnick, Francis E. Sweeney and Paul E. Pfeifer forged a majority. Their decisions expanded workers’ compensation rights, increased liabilities for insurance companies and declared the Ohio system of funding public schools unconstitutional.

In an interview with The Plain Dealer in December 2002, Douglas said his most meaningful case during his Supreme Court career was in 1987 with Dayton Power & Light Company v. Ohio Civil Rights Commission. A group of Dayton Power & Light employees were engaged in “horseplay” on Sept. 12, 1982 and damaged company property. Of the employees involved, Samuel Prather was the only African-American and the only employee fired on Sept. 13, 1982. The Supreme Court ruled that the power company unlawfully discharged Prather. Douglas remarked, “Every case that comes here is important, but if I had to choose an example of moral persuasion of the court and the ability to do the right thing, that’s it.”

Douglas explained his judicial philosophy in a 1997 commencement address to Cleveland State University Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students:

“But a simple rule can help you meet and exceed those expectations. As you traverse the rocky terrain of the modern practice of law, always keep this principle in mind… Endeavor to give your clients advice which will advance their interests while also furthering the interests of justice. I can think of no greater comfort than laying down your head on your pillow each night knowing, on that day you helped somebody. We, in our profession, can do that each and every day.”

Douglas could not run for a fourth term, as he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70-years-old in 2002. He retired Dec. 31, 2002 and joined the Columbus law firm of Crabbe, Brown & James as a partner. He also served as executive director of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA).

Douglas married Joan Bowman, who died at the age of 33 in 1966. They were the parents of four children: Cindy, Robert, Andy and David.

 

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Sources for this article include:

•  The Supreme Court of Ohio •The Supreme Court of Ohio

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Last modified: Saturday, 18 March 2017