A group of Xavier University students, alumni and faculty are protesting the recent decision to appoint Joe Deters as a “judge in residence” on campus.
Deters, former Hamilton County District Attorney and recently appointed Ohio Supreme Court JusticeOn February 22, he immediately became a volunteer.
As an “equity in residence,” Deters participates in “a variety of activities” and participates in academic activities and “cooperative programs related to his area of professional expertise,” according to an announcement from the university.
Xavier student Ethan Nichols, who serves on the Xavier College of Arts and Sciences Student Advisory Board, created a petition asking Deters to be removed from his role on campus. More than 600 people signed the petition.
“As members of the Xavier University community, we condemn the decision to bring Justice Deters into our community. His views, past comments and actions are antithetical to our Jesuit values,” Nichols said in a press release.
Deters’ past comments referenced in the petition include a 2018 statement in which the then-prosecutor advocated for the return of the death penalty by court order, saying the death penalty “should not be a pleasant experience.”
Deters, who has never been a judge, was appointed to the Ohio Supreme Court in December by Gov. Mike DeWine, giving the court a 4-3 conservative majority. Deters took over for Justice Sharon Kennedy after voters decided her ascension to the chief justice position in November.
Deters has 25 years of controversial crime-fighting legal work under his belt, serving as the Hamilton County District Attorney from 1992 to 1999 and again from 2005 to 2022. Prior to that, he served as state treasurer from 1999 to 2004 and was elected as the Hamilton County Clerk of Court in 1998.
“I am delighted to welcome Justice Deters to our community and excited about the experience he will bring to our students in some of our most rigorous and successful programs,” Xavier University President Colleen Hanich said in a news release. “High-impact experiential learning is one of the pillars of academic excellence at Xavier, and having Justice Deters’ wealth of knowledge available to our students will be invaluable.”
Deters did not attend Xavier University, but attended St. Xavier High School.
Cincinnati Public Schools board member Mike Morosky, a 2001 Xavier graduate, said in a news release that Deters’ values conflicted with Xavier’s principles.
“Javier taught me to treat people fairly and kindly. Mr. Deters has a demonstrated track record and a history of rhetoric that is contrary to these principles,” Morosky said.
Xavier University officials did not respond CityBeatrequest to comment on the petition at press time.
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