Voters re-elect Judges Mary DeGenaro, Scott Hunter

SEE ALSO: Ditzler wins Mahoning commission seat

By Peter H. Milliken


Two longtime incumbent Republican judges won re-election against challengers named Hanni.

Judge Mary DeGenaro, 51, of Poland, won a third- consecutive six-year term on the Youngstown-based 7th District Court of Appeals.

Her challenger was Atty. Mark A. Hanni, 55, of Canfield, a Democrat.

The appeals court covers Mahoning, Columbiana, Carroll, Jefferson, Harrison, Belmont, Monroe and Noble counties.

Judge DeGenaro got 53 percent of the vote across eight counties to Hanni’s 47 percent.

Judge Scott D. Hunter, 49, of Boardman, won a third- consecutive six-year term in a Mahoning County Court judgeship he has held since 1999.

Judge Hunter, who is based in Canfield Court, was challenged by Atty. Heidi Hanni of Boardman, a sister of Mark A. Hanni.

Judge Hunter got 73 percent to Heidi Hanni’s 27 percent.

“I’m humbled by the results, and I’m honored to continue my service, and I pledge to do my level best to uphold the trust and confidence that the public has shown in me,” Judge Hunter said as he celebrated his victory with family members in a Boardman restaurant.

Judge Hunter said his goal for his new term is “that the administration of justice is being conducted in an effective and efficient manner with a commitment to fiscal responsibility.”

Judges DeGenaro and Hunter received highly-qualified ratings from the 503-member Mahoning County Bar Association, which dismissed the Hannis as not qualified.

Atty. Shirley J. Christian, association president, declined to reveal how many association members responded to the poll, or what percentage of the respondents agreed with the ratings.

The association said its member lawyers evaluate judicial candidates based on their legal knowledge, professional experience, temperament, integrity, diligence and professional responsibility.

The appeals-court race did not fit the subdued and restrained stereotype that typically characterizes judicial races.

In response to a complaint from Judge DeGenaro, a Mahoning County Bar Association panel, which conducted a last-minute hearing Saturday, ordered Atty. Mark Hanni to cease several alleged violations of judicial campaign rules.

The panel ordered him not to publicly endorse other candidates, make speeches on behalf of a political party or state that he would “decide cases from any specific perspective.”

Hanni denied the allegations in the complaint, said all his judicial decisions would follow the law, and said he wanted the hearing moved to the Ohio Supreme Court to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

The bar association, acting for the top court’s disciplinary board, decried Hanni’s failure to attend the hearing as a departure from the association’s “positive campaign expectations.”

The appeals court has four judges, who normally sit in three-judge panels to decide whether trial judges’ decisions were legally and procedurally correct.

The county court is the trial court for lower-level civil, traffic and criminal cases; and it conducts initial court appearances for people charged with serious crimes.

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