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Douglas deserves chance to prove his capabilities



Published: Fri, May 4, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



We should know better than to expect miracles when it comes to government, but even the most understanding of observers must wonder whether the problems plaguing the Youngstown Municipal Court are so deeply entrenched that it makes no difference who is on the bench.

Low bonds for individuals charged with violent crimes was cause for concern through the 1990s and they still are today. Stacking of probation was a problem in the 1990s and it still is today. Irregular court hours were a problem in the last decade in the Youngstown Municipal Court, as they are today.

And yet, we find ourselves willing to give the three judges of the court, Robert A. Douglas Jr., Robert Milich and Elizabeth Kobly some more time to get the city's judicial system in shape.

Primary election: Thus, we endorse Judge Douglas for the Democratic nomination in Tuesday's primary. He is being challenged by Anthony J. Farris, an assistant Youngstown city prosecutor.

Farris' challenge is built on the issues of low bond and probation, but in his interview with The Vindicator editorial board, the only evidence he presented were cases that were widely publicized in this newspaper.

Farris could easily have accessed the judge's entire record and analyzed it from the point of view of low bonds and probation to bolster his platform, but he seemed content to talk in generalities.

He also contended that Judge Douglas is the most lenient of the three judges, yet he did not provide a comparative study of the three judges to back up that position.

For his part, Douglas, who was appointed to the bench in 1997 by then Gov. George Voinovich and successfully ran in 1999 to serve out the remainder of the term, challenged his critics to evaluate his entire record on whatever issues are being raised in the campaign.

The judge insisted during his interview with The Vindicator that he is & quot;firm but fair & quot; and denied that he bends over backwards for defense lawyers.

He did acknowledge that being an African-American gives him a perspective that is invaluable in an urban criminal justice system.

In the absence of proof that the incumbent has all but turned over the court to the criminals, we believe he deserves the chance to work with his colleagues to change the operation and the reputation of the Youngstown Municipal Court.

Work day: We expect serious crimes to be dealt with seriously, we demand an end to haphazard probation and we want all three judges to work a full eight-hour day.

Our endorsement of Judge Douglas comes at a price. We want him to give meaning to the phrase, "the proper administration of justice."




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