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Position papers: Summit County Common Pleas Court judge

8/28/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Lynne Callahan (incumbent) vs. Tavia Baxter Galonski

Summit County voters will vote for one candidate for Summit County Common Pleas Court judge for the term commencing Jan. 3, 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.

Lynne Callahan

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

  1. “Sentencing Mandates — As judge, I have seen an increasing number of laws enacted over the years that restrict a judge’s discretion when imposing a sentence. Many of the recent mandates focus on prison overcrowding, and do not necessarily take into consideration the individual or the concerns of the community. I believe the safety of the community should be the primary concern when a sentence is imposed. I am keenly aware of the strain that jail/prison overcrowding places on our system, both locally and statewide. However, sentencing should be left to the judiciary. As a member of the Ohio Judicial Conference Criminal Law and Procedures Committee, I continue to work with other judges to fight to insure that the focus of sentencing remains on the individual offender, the victim, and the concerns of the community.
  2. “Mediation — Statistics show that the Court’s current mediation program could be more effective. Summit County continues to have one of the highest caseloads per judge in the state. The institution of a strong, effective mediation program would allow civil cases to be resolved more quickly and at less cost to the parties. Participants would have the opportunity to have ‘their day in court’ without the expense of a lengthy trial. I am proud that my colleagues and I are in agreement to modify the Court’s current mediation program. Plans for a new mediation program will emerge in 2015. I will remain involved in that process and encourage the development of a program that utilizes …” [Exceeded stated word limit.]

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

“More than two thousand years ago Socrates described what he called the four traits that belong to a judge: ‘to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly, to decide impartially.’ I have a plaque inscribed with those words on my desk because they embody the meaning of judicial demeanor. Throughout my years as a judge, I have learned that judicial demeanor means listening to those who come before me and actually hearing what they have to say. Judicial demeanor means being respectful to those who appear before me. It means being patient at all times. Above all, judicial demeanor means striving to be fair in every situation. The compliments I’ve cherished the most since becoming judge are those that have commended my judicial demeanor.”

 

Tavia Baxter Galonski

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

“Safety: Employees, vendors, litigants and families rely upon a guarantee of safety when they enter the halls of justice. It is the job of the court leadership to address safety in and around the courthouse. Problems can become acute when the number of users exceeds the safety protocols. As Judge, I would evaluate the safety protocols in partnership with the law enforcement officials and administrative staff. I would begin my allegiance toward the highest safety protocols by taking the 40-hour fire-arm safety training offered through the County Sheriff and the Fraternal Order of Police and Sheriffs.

“Process Improvement: Attorneys, Sheriff’s Deputies, the public and the litigants must come to the court to conduct business while following court rules. With technological enhancements, we could improve the court experience and reduce wait time. Paperless processing and bio-tech enhancements can also speed up processing time. When a judge has valuable quality time to weigh issues, the decisions are improved.

“Family and Community Restoration and Reunification: Family members could include victims’ family members and includes those left behind by the offender. I have worked with families for years and I understand the healing that has to take place behind bars and once the bars are removed. I join with the mental health and addition services of our county in their commitment toward recovery. The majority of those who have court cases are eventually returning to their communities. The judge must take community control sentencing and release into account when evaluating offender sentencing.”

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

“Judicial demeanor means impartially maintaining order during the judicial process while respecting the dignity of all participating in the process. A judge should be empathic and contemplative. Judicial demeanor is not a trait which can be taught or mimicked. Judicial demeanor is listening with the humility of a servant to the public. A judge takes the facts of the case and applies them to current law thoughtfully and swiftly with serious consideration as to how those words will affect the reader. If you are a person with a conscience, your experiences have shaped who you are. You have learned what not to do. You have learned to treat others as you would have them treat you.

“In particular, good judicial demeanor is demonstrated by one who seeks to serve the inside public (the prosecutor and legal defender who need to make a record) and the outside public (the litigants, pro se, grandparents, children, friends, aunts and uncles who want to believe they will be heard). I have learned the best parts of good judicial demeanor in my role as a parent. I have to listen to the question which is asked, showing that I am sincerely interested, and use wisdom in delivering a good answer. Yes, I have good judicial demeanor.”

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