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Elections

Position papers: Summit County Common Pleas Court judge

8/21/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Ron Cable vs. Tammy O’Brien (incumbent)

Summit County voters will vote for one candidate for Summit County Common Pleas Court judge for the term commencing Jan. 2, 2015, in the Nov. 4 General Election. The information provided below was submitted by the candidates, with their responses to our questions printed as submitted.

Ron Cable

What are the three most important issues facing Summit County Common Pleas Court and how would you address them?

  1. “Securing Justice for all in Civil Cases
    “Self-represented parties in civil cases pose a complex problem for courts. Many litigants who attempt to represent themselves do so poorly, which reduces the chances of achieving a just result. Unfortunately, economic barriers to justice still exist.
    “There is no quick fix for this problem. However, as judge, I will address this problem by working with community resources to help more people have access to legal representation. Furthermore, I will listen, be patient, separate out the meritorious claims, and keep people on track to help foster reasonable resolutions.
  2. “Operating Courts with Declining Resources
    “It is no secret that Ohio courts are operating on lower budgets. Courts are faced with fewer resources to accommodate arguably worsening cases and increased dockets. Nevertheless, courts have an obligation to do their work competently and effectively, despite resource limitations.
    “It is a challenge to do more with less; however, it is possible. It is important to work harder and more efficient, and to look for other revenue streams such as grants to supplement budget cuts.
  3. “Heroin Epidemic
    “Heroin use and abuse impact every court and community in Summit County.
    “For people involved with the court who are not drug dealers, I support therapeutic justice programming. These programs address the drug addiction underlying the criminal behavior. Ultimately, they prevent repeated crimes and incarcerations, conserving taxpayer dollars, and making addicts productive citizens.
    “I also support preventative programming for at-risk adults and children, for the same reasons.”

What does a judicial demeanor mean to you and do you think you have it?

“In my opinion, judicial demeanor is attributed to one’s personality and character. It comes from within and is constantly tested during the litigation process. I believe that judicial demeanor cannot be taught. One either has it, or he does not.

“Those that have a solid judicial temperament treat litigants, attorneys and court staff with respect and dignity in even the most difficult of circumstances. They are able to set their own troubles aside, and concentrate on the problems of others. They act with grace under pressure, but are not too soft to require accountability. They do not see themselves as superior to others, but rather as being in a position of trust, granted by the public that they serve.

“Those that do not have a solid judicial temperament are said to be plagued by ‘black robe disease.’ They have little patience or compassion for others. They get the job done by bullying litigants, attorneys and even court staff. They are sharp with their words, and often have unascertainable expectations.

“I have over thirteen years of proven solid judicial demeanor. In addition, there is not a day that goes by that I do not remind myself that for many, the court process is the most stressful experience of their lives. This is true whether one’s property, livelihood, children, liberty or even life is at stake. It is paramount to treat people with dignity and respect, even in instances when their accountability will forever change their existence. I do this every day.”

 

Tammy O’Brien (incumbent)

What are the three most important issues facing Summit County Common Pleas Court and how would you address them?

“As a Judge, I believe that serious crimes deserve serious punishment. However, under current law, many non-violent offenders are required to be placed on probation. Many of these offenders have substance abuse problems and, as such, one issue facing the Court is the ability of our probation department to address substance abuse issues, including the current heroin epidemic. Our probation department must continue its work toward evaluating each offender’s risk of committing additional offenses and developing individualized plans for lessening that risk. As Administrative Judge, this year I led a team from Summit County at the Ohio Judicial Symposium on Opiate Addiction to foster an exchange of ideas among many Ohio counties on the most promising practices and options for treatment.

“The Court also must deal with the reality of the overcrowding of the Summit County jail. As Administrative Judge, I am faced with requests every day from the County to release certain inmates to make room for defendants charged with more serious crimes. For the safety of the community, I am working to insure that as many of these inmates as possible are placed in structured, monitored programs when release from the jail is necessary.

“A third issue is the caseload of each court. In order to alleviate that work load, I am working to restructure the Court’s mediation department to offer more effective mediation services. Effective mediation can result in cases being settled earlier, which saves time and money for the parties and decreases the Court’s caseload.”

What does a judicial demeanor mean to you and do you think you have it?

“A good judge has both the legal knowledge that is gained by a broad background in the law, as well as the human compassion and understanding to deal with people who are most often faced with stressful and sometimes scary situations. As the arbiter of the dispute, the judge sets the tone for the proceedings, and should exhibit and expect decorum and dignity, while showing uncommon courtesy and respect for all people. A judge should be consistent, so that the parties and the attorneys know what to expect. A judge should also have integrity and be conscious of what is right, even if it is unpopular or not politically expedient.

“As a Judge, I have presided over more than 4,000 serious criminal and complicated civil matters, and I strive to be all of these things to the parties that come before me. I have a broad legal background, having practiced law for nineteen years, handling many kinds of civil and criminal cases before becoming a judge. I am a logical, organized, rules-driven person, but also appreciate the practicality of a situation and apply the law with common sense. I believe all parties should leave my court understanding that they have been treated fairly and with respect. If I am re-elected, I will continue to represent the citizens of Summit County as competently and professionally as I can.”

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