The challenger says the court needs to be more accessible; the judge says it's already user-friendly.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Atty. Maureen A. Sweeney said it's time for a change. Timothy P. Maloney, whom she's challenging, says he's proud of his performance.
"We've had lawyers that have been indicted. We've had judges that have lost their positions. We've had elected officials that have put us to shame," said Sweeney, Republican candidate for Mahoning County probate judge.
"We need to put that past behind us, and we need to elect people that will look to the future,'' she added.
"I have no shame and nothing but pride for the kinds of careers I've had and the kind of commitment I've thrown into each of those careers," said Judge Maloney, a Democrat.
Both spoke Wednesday to a standing-room-only crowd of some 100 people at the Southern Boulevard Block Watch meeting at St. Dominic Parish Center.
Sweeney said she's been practicing law nine years, handling cases ranging from aggravated murder to small claims. In recent years, she has limited her practice to family matters in juvenile, domestic relations and probate courts. "My past revolves around taking care of people," she said.
Probate court often serves "people in their most traumatic and emotional times. We need to take care of those people and we need a judge that will," she said.
Sweeney said people shouldn't be kept waiting unnecessarily. A judge should also be an advocate for community improvement, be active in community affairs, address community groups and participate in charitable events, she said.
"I've always thought of myself as a people person," Judge Maloney said, adding that he was a police officer for 13 years, during which he received 13 letters of commendation. He earned his bachelor's degree from Youngstown State University over nine years while working full time and received his law degree from the University of Akron.
Former Probate Judge Leo P. Morley asked him to be a probate court magistrate and he served in that capacity for eight years before being elected probate judge six years ago.
"The court requires absolute dedication," Judge Maloney said, describing himself as a "workaholic" and noting that he has held Saturday court sessions.
Upon becoming probate judge, "I immediately increased the work hours of the court and made it more accessible to the public," the judge said, adding that he improved access by establishing a court Web site.
He also said he has greatly reduced the court's reliance on the county's general fund.
"It is a busy court. It's an extremely complicated court," he said, noting it handles guardianships, estates, trusts, adoptions, name changes, birth registrations, marriage licenses, and civil commitments of mentally ill and retarded people.