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3 judicial candidates fail to get Mahoning Bar’s endorsement

Published: Thu, April 3, 2014 @ 12:02 a.m.

By David Skolnick



Of the 12 candidates running for a judicial seat in Mahoning County or on the 7th District Court of Appeals, the county bar association labeled 25 percent of them as “not recommended” for election.

Those with the “not recommended” label are:

Susan Maruca, the county Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate for probate court judge. The bar also didn’t recommend her when she unsuccessfully ran for the seat six years ago.

Mark A. Hanni, running as a Democratic write-in candidate against incumbent Common Pleas Court Judge Maureen Sweeney. The bar also didn’t recommend Hanni when he ran for a seat on the court of appeals two years ago.

David Engler, a candidate for the court of appeals running in the Democratic primary against Youngstown Deputy Law Director Anthony Donofrio for an open seat.

The bar association bases its recommendations on “legal knowledge, professional experience, judicial temperament, integrity, diligence and professional responsibility,” according to a statement, and the results shouldn’t be considered an endorsement.

The bar has close to 500 members, and the labeling is “part of our ethical responsibility. We help educate the public,” said Edward J. Hartwig, its president.

Those on the judicial ballot can get three designations: highly recommended, recommended or not recommended.

Those who were “not recommended” were labeled for only the position they’re seeking, he said.

Hartwig declined to say how many lawyers responded to the poll on the judicial candidates.

Maruca said fewer than 200 voted for her. She faces Christopher Sammarone and Mark Belinky in the Democratic primary. Belinky, who is under criminal investigation by the state, resigned March 14 as probate-court judge. He is, however, still on the May 6 primary ballot.

The bar association “recommended” Belinky for probate court judge. The ballots were sent to bar members in late February with Friday as the deadline to return them, Hartwig said.

Maruca said she saw the “highly recommended” list in her race, and Belinky had 59 of those votes, Sammarone had 22 and she had 15.

“Those votes were cast after Mark Belinky’s home was raided,” she said, pointing to Feb. 7 searches by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation of his Boardman house and his then-Youngstown court office. “The results [of the bar poll] speak for themselves. It’s a political decision, and the bar association should stay out of politics. I was taking on a sitting judge, and that’s not appreciated by certain members of the bar.”

Hanni said fewer than 100 lawyers voted for him.

“The majority of people who vote are attorneys for insurance companies, banks and big business, and I represent the common workingman,” he said. “It’s a very skewed process.”

Engler said not being recommended “is a reflection of the type of law I practice where I take a no-prisoners-type of style. I’ve had a good success rate against insurance attorneys and defense attorneys. I must have stepped on some toes while representing my clients.”

Common Pleas Court Judges R. Scott Krichbaum, a Republican, and Democrat John M. Durkin, both running unopposed, were the only two deemed “highly recommended” by the bar.


1hopscotchwillie(26 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

The Mahoning County Bar Association is nothing more than a bunch unethical whores. Starting with Ron Slipski on down. They are only concerned with protecting their own. Their motto is Mahoning County Just Us!

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2handymandave(578 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

This is a rather easy one to figure out. Whoever the bar association considers not to be worthy of voting for will definitely have my consideration.

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3PolandResident(1 comment)posted 2 years, 3 months ago


Please don't spew your venom here by comparing whores to some of the attorneys in the Bar Association. The whores do not deserve that insult.

Let's look at some of these credible Valley lawyers. The king of credibility, Dave Betras endorses his former "partner" , Susan Maruca, yet the bar association deems her to be unqualified? Great judgment there Dave.

Scott Cochran is a former president of the bar association which probably kept him very busy. I am also sure he is preoccupied with that little thing known as a federal indictment hanging over his head.

Sam Amendolara is the juvenile magistrate where he makes recommendations to Theresa Dellick, who can over-rule him if she believes his legal reasoning is incorrect. Yeah- don't see that happening when she hired him to defend her law abiding son. How is it not a conflict of interest for a magistrate to represent the son of the judge who employs him and then continues to make rulings in her court??

Maruca is right about one thing. The bar association and attorneys should stay out of politics. Let's start with Dave Betras. Not sure if it will imrpove things but there will be one less whore.

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