Published May 23, 2009
Friday was the deadline for applications for the federal judgeship in the Northern District of Ohio being vacated by Judge Peter C. Economus, who sits in Youngstown. But the public probably won't know who applied until the screening committee has interviewed the candidates and submitted the names of the finalists to U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and George V. Voinovich, R-Ohio.
The senators will make a recommendation to the White House and President Obama will decide whether to place the individual's name in nomination for Senate confirmation.
Judge Economus will be taking senior status on July 3, which means he will then hear cases on assignment. And while the Youngstown federal court will continue to operate, there is no guarantee that the judge will come from the Mahoning Valley. That's because the screening committee appointed by Sens. Brown and Voinovich is made up of residents from the Southern District of the federal court in Ohio. There is only one member with first-hand knowledge of the Mahoning Valley judiciary: Former federal Judge Nathaniel Jones, whose name is on the bankruptcy court in Youngstown.
When Economus was nominated, the screening committee was made up of several local lawyers and residents.
While the list of applicants may not be known, there are several Valley residents who had been expected to apply: Judge Gene Donofrio of the 7th District Court of Appeals; Atty. Robert Shaker of Liberty Township; Atty. David Detec of Liberty; and, perhaps, Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Given the importance of the federal court, the public deserves to know who applied. Keeping the list under wraps does not benefit the process. There are residents in this area as well as throughout the state who may have an opinion, pro or con, about one of more of the applicants. Such information would greatly benefit the screening committee's work.