Hagan, Gerberry request judge not be replaced

By David Skolnick



Two Democratic state House members are asking Gov. John Kasich not to fill the soon-to-be-vacant position of retiring Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Robert A. Douglas Jr.

State Reps. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-60th, and Ronald V. Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, wrote a letter Thursday to the Republican governor asking him to “refrain” from filling the seat and to “express support for reconfiguring [Mahoning] County’s lower courts to use taxpayer resources more judiciously.”

Hagan and Gerberry wrote that the lower-court system — with three full-time municipal-court judges in Youngstown, part-timers in Struthers and Campbell and four on the county-court level along with mayors’ courts — was established when Youngstown had about 140,000 residents. It has less than half of that now.

“It is difficult to justify continuation of the current system when a reconfigured one could serve the people just as well,” Hagan and Gerberry wrote.

The two requested Kasich meet with the area’s state legislative delegation to discuss the possibility of a new countywide court system.

It was only a week ago that Rob Nichols, the governor’s spokesman, said the state constitution requires Kasich to appoint someone to the position, and he’d follow the law until the state Legislature voted to abolish the seat. That came after David Betras, Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman, sent a similar letter with the same request.

Judge Douglas will retire Aug. 1. His term doesn’t expire until Dec. 31, 2013.

The county Republican Party has received applications from candidates wanting to fill the seat. The party, which will release the applicants’ names Monday, will interview the candidates and recommend three to Kasich, who makes the appointment.

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