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Position papers: Summit County Common Pleas Court judge

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

John Clark vs. Christine Croce (incumbent)

Summit County voters will vote for one candidate for Summit County Common Pleas Court judge for the term commencing Feb. 9, 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.

John Clark

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

  1. “Lack of jail and prison space. While the sheriff’s department, state officials, communities and community based providers are doing their best to address this problem, deficiencies remain. By implementing more community based alternative programs, we can assure public safety by freeing up jail space for dangerous criminals. As a Common Pleas Judge, I would facilitate cooperation between federal, state, and local officials to increase community programming as well as jail space.
  2. “Expansion of specialty courts and programs for non-violent offenders. The Summit County court system has implemented successful programs like the Turning Point drug court program and veterans’ courts. Common Pleas Court needs to expand programs like these and develop others to better our community. Furthermore, in utilizing such programs, we must ensure that only appropriate offenders are placed into them. A current problem that could benefit from such programs is the heroin epidemic. As Judge, I would look to expand programs that assist persons dealing with addictions, while assuring that only appropriate offenders are placed into such programs.
  3. “Promptly handling civil cases. While the general focus of the public on the Common Pleas Court is the criminal docket, civil cases comprise approximately seventy-five percent (75%) of the caseload. These cases need to be handled in a prompt manner. As a Magistrate since 1998, I have developed processes to keep civil cases moving to conclusion, allowing my Court to become one of the most efficient in the State. These processes are adaptable to Common Pleas Court.”

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

“To me, judicial demeanor means impartiality and objectivity. A judicial officer must be fair and impartial, professional, patient, maintain control of the courtroom, and listen to and be respectful of counsel, parties, and witnesses. A judicial officer must also avoid the appearance of impropriety or partiality by avoiding unnecessary and improper relationships with counsel or litigants outside of the courtroom. Another aspect of proper judicial demeanor is the freedom from political influence.

“I am certain that I have the proper judicial demeanor as demonstrated in my impartial and unbiased service as a Magistrate since 1998, and I would bring this demeanor to the Common Pleas bench.”


Christine Croce (incumbent)

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

“Three issues facing the Summit County Court of Common Pleas include 1) public safety; 2) addressing substance abuse and mental health issues; and 3) the need to enhance the accessibility to the Courts and elevate the quality of justice

  1. “Community safety is of the utmost importance when the Court balances the imposition of punishment vs. attempting rehabilitation for criminal felony offenders. Recently, Ohio sentencing laws have changed and impact how judges impose criminal sentences. Therefore, each and every convicted offender is analyzed before sentencing regarding the level/seriousness of the offense, prior criminal record if any along with many other factors. The outcome of such analysis, dictates what combination of punishment and/or rehabilitation is necessary in order to protect our community.
  2. “Numerous crimes can be attributed to chemical dependency and/or mental illness issues. In order to address the crime, it is imperative to analyze the individual offender to determine whether an underlying issue exists and whether treatment is appropriate. If treatment is deemed appropriate the proper treatment facility can increase the likelihood of success. If treatment is ultimately successful, the recidivism rate should decrease, hence reducing criminal offenses and in turn keep our community safe.
  3. “Accessibility to the Court and the quality of the administration of justice can be enhanced to meet the needs of indigent litigants and foreclosure parties by offering a variety of services including mediation, necessary forms on-line, as well as providing general information to the public through public meetings and informational seminars.”

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

“As a Judge for the past two and a half years, I believe our judiciary plays such a central role in preserving the principles of justice and the rule of law. It is imperative to our system of justice that judges not simply decide the law but exemplify it by having respect for and upholding the law, being fair and impartial, maintaining order, being patient, dignified and courteous. Possessing these qualities is essential in all legal proceedings so that judges uphold and promote the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary. A judge is so intricately involved in guiding the tone of any legal matter that I believe the significance of a judge’s role remains a critical element in our system, to insure that all parties feel as though they have received the full attention of the court and that their case has been dealt with fairly and impartially.

“I respectfully submit that I possess this judicial demeanor and temperament. Further, by exercising this type of judicial demeanor and temperament, my goal is to enhance confidence in our court system while keeping our community safe.”

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