Trumbull County has two county courts, one in Brookfield and one in Cortland. It also has municipal courts in Newton Falls, Niles, Girard and Warren.
Like many counties in the state, Trumbull is a hostage to political subdivisions and fiefdoms that were carved out decades ago, and change is difficult to effect. Which is not to say it shouldn’t be tried.
Indeed, Trumbull County Central District Judge Tom Campbell advocated combining the two courts this year after Eastern District Judge Ronald Rice announced that he was running for an open common pleas court seat.
Unfortunately, that suggestion died in the Ohio General Assembly, despite support for the idea from the people who should know best, the Ohio Supreme Court.
So now, voters in the Eastern Court District will select one of two men to fill a six-year term on the court.
The good news is that voters will be choosing between two strong candidates, and both are in their mid-60s, so either would be a one-termer, precluded from running for re-election because of age. Perhaps that will make it easier in the future to eventually achieve some court reorganization in Trumbull County.
Two experienced lawyers
As for the race at hand, the candidates are two Cortland attorneys, Randil J. Rudloff, a Democrat, and Robert M. Platt Jr., a Republican. Rudloff has been a lawyer since 1973; Platt, since 1974. So both lay claim to significant legal experience, and both have practiced in the county courts. Rudloff has also served as an acting judge in both Cortland and Brookfield. Platt has served as solicitor of West Farmington and law director of Cortland.
Platt says he worked toward the proposed consolidation and only filed to run after it became obvious that it was not going to happen. Rudloff expressed less enthusiasm for the proposal, saying there was a perception that Campbell’s pursuit of consolidation was “more self interest than public interest.”
In a candidate questionnaire, Rudloff said he’s a strong believer in “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” and during his interview with Vindicator editors he was consistent in that attitude. He sees room for some improvements, such as in instituting video arraignments, but came across as more comfortable with the status quo than Platt.
Platt, too, wants to begin video arraignments in the court, but he also believes the court should expand its hours, at least from two days a week to 21/2, and would be open to something other than “cattle call” sessions, which call for everyone to appear before the court to arrive at the same time. Platt also expressed support for pursuing consolidation in the future.
Voters will be choosing between two experienced lawyers who have an obvious grasp of how the court works and how a judge should behave.
The Vindicator gives the edge to Platt, based on his greater openness to change.
We endorse Robert Platt for judge in Trumbull County’s Eastern District Court.