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Position papers: Summit County Common Pleas Court judge

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

Lisa Dean vs. Alison McCarty (incumbent)

Summit County voters will vote for one candidate for Summit County Common Pleas Court judge for the term commencing Jan. 5, 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.

Lisa Dean

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

  1. “Efficiency: As a lawyer, I know from years of experience that what people want is fair treatment and swift justice. As a busy and successful lawyer, I have mastered the art of managing my time, my caseload, and my staff. I am disciplined, I am organized, and I am a hard-worker. As a magistrate, I run a disciplined courtroom and I handle my docket efficiently. I will bring these skills and characteristics with me as the next judge.
  2. “Alternative sentencing: Jail overcrowding is a problem for all correctional facilities in Ohio. A judge in Summit County must be a creative problem solver and balance the lack of resources with the importance of keeping the public safe. For non-violent drug abusers, this means following a treatment and accountability model. It also means working with the probation department to increase its success rate with offenders who are at a low-risk of reoffending. I will bring my experience and understanding of these issues, along with my creativity in problem solving, with me as the next judge.
  3. “Safety: A primary concern for all citizens is the need to feel safe. People should be confident that judges take the duty of considering public safety very seriously. I have years of experience in protecting the most vulnerable citizens among us — including children — and I am eager to put my years of this experience to work for Summit County families as the next judge.”

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

“Having a judicial demeanor means consistently exhibiting conduct — inside and outside of the courtroom — that instills the public’s confidence in our legal system. As a lawyer for 15 years, I have been honored to represent thousands of people as they navigate through our legal system, and I have taken their confidence in me very seriously. I have held myself to the highest standard of conduct. I have conducted myself with dignity, notwithstanding the intensity of litigation, and I have demonstrated not only respect for the law, but also respect for people.

“Having a judicial demeanor means acting fairly, impartially, and independently. This requires the ability to listen with an open mind. My experience as a lawyer has helped me to develop excellent communication skills. The most important skill I have developed is the ability to listen. I use this skill not only in my practice as a lawyer, but also as a sitting magistrate on the bench.

“Throughout my entire legal career, as both a lawyer and as a magistrate, I have conducted myself in a manner that instills the public’s confidence in our legal system. As the next judge, I will continue to hold myself to the highest standard, and I will perform the duties of judge fairly and impartially.”


Alison McCarty (incumbent)

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

  1. “Drug abuse is a serious problem facing our community. Heroin, prescription medication abuse and methamphetamine production have created havoc in our community. Cocaine and marijuana use also leads to criminal behavior as young people become addicted and do not have the funds to feed their habits.
    “Addressing addiction can stop criminal behavior. The court must determine where the offender is on the spectrum of readiness for recovery and address the situation appropriately. If he or she is not ready to change, then in-patient treatment, jail or even prison must be the approach. It takes wisdom and experience to find the right resolution.
  2. “Gun violence is another serious issue. Our young men and other innocents are dying. Unfortunately it is often too late to try to change behavior when a violent crime with a gun comes to my court. While I must sentence those offenders harshly, I do preside over a Re-Entry Court which can help those same offenders transition back into the community at the time of their release.
  3. “A sense of hopelessness and lack of desire to make and achieve goals afflicts some of our young people. This can lead to the drug addiction and violence that I have just discussed. It is important for us to offer mentors and role models for our young people, and encourage them to complete their education. Our court has numerous programs that try to develop such relationships with offenders that are on probation in an effort to help them succeed.”

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

“A judge is expected to be many things, such as wise, fair, compassionate, stern, forgiving, tolerant and helpful. The difficulty of a judge’s job is knowing when to demonstrate those particular attributes. I have spent the past 25 years in the courtroom, either trying cases as a prosecutor, or presiding over them as a Municipal or Common Pleas Judge. I have had the opportunity to learn and grow in this position, and have tried to develop an insight into the different type of people that may come in front of me. Is this person a danger to the community, or can I take a risk and try to keep him in the community and help him change his behavior? If the case involves civil issues, I try to figure out if there is a specific issue preventing a resolution. What I have learned is that the best trait that helps me to make my decisions is to listen. Listen to the lawyers, listen to the parties, whether it is a criminal or a civil case. Sometimes after listening to all the people involved, the answer to the situation becomes clear. Sometimes a jury has to sort out the facts.

“I believe I demonstrate all of those attributes at one time or another, and I try every day to do so fairly, respecting the dignity of those that come before me. I respectfully ask for your support in my bid for re-election, and for your vote.”

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