Candidates examined to fill vacated judge’s seat

December 7th, 2006    Author: Rodney Beckwith    Filed Under: News

In a manner of speaking, Clermont County will be benching two new judges at the beginning of 2007. With his recent victory in the race for a seat as a court of common pleas judge, Judge Victor Haddad will begin his career as a common pleas judge during the first week of January.

Since Haddad will be leaving his seat as a municipal court judge to fill the newly-created common pleas position, a judge must be appointed to fill Haddad’s vacated position on the municipal court.

That decision will be made in the coming weeks by an appointment from the governor’s office.

"Whenever there is a vacancy in a judgeship, the Ohio constitution calls for the sitting governor to appoint to fill that vacancy," said municipal court clerk and Clermont County Republican Party chairman Tim Rudd. "With Victor Haddad winning the seat to the common pleas bench, his seat will become vacant on Jan. 3, which is the first day he will take the seat at common pleas."

According to Rudd, the process for appointing judges in cases like this differs somewhat depending on local party traditions. Generally speaking, the sitting governor will appoint a judge based on a recommendation made by the governor's party from the county in need of a judge. In the case of Clermont County, the recommendation is cast by vote.

"Gov. Taft sent a package instructing the parties with the process he wanted to proceed with," said Rudd. "In the event of a vacancy, we have to let him know about it and send up three names for his consideration. The local parties are to follow their procedures. My local party's constitution says we are to make a recommendation based on a majority vote of the central committee. I had four candidates come before the executive committee and then the central committee. They gave a five minute statement to each body, and then we opened it to questioning. At the end, we put it to a vote to determine which three names would go up and who would receive the recommendation."

Accepting the Clermont County recommendation will be assistant prosecutor Tony Brock, who was the hands-down choice of the Clermont County republican party's central committee. In all, four candidates were given the opportunity to address the party, but the tallied votes were heavily in favor of the one candidate. However, due to a request from the governor, the top three vote getters will be submitted for review.

"I had 143 members present out of a possible 200," said Rudd. "I was very please to have over 70 percent of my central committee present. That's a high number to have present. Out of that, 100 voted for Tony Brock, 20 for Bill Rapp and 14 for George Pattison. Those were the three names we sent up."

Later, however, Rudd said that Rapp requested his name be withdrawn from the running. Rudd said that a decision should be handed down soon from the governor's office. Typically, however, it is the recommended candidate that receives the appointment.

"Tony has been an assistant prosecutor for a number of years," said Rudd. "What people really looked at, when he was giving his presentation, there was a feel that what you saw was what you got. He's the genuine article. When you look at his resume and hear what he has to say, I think they believed he would be a fair and balanced judge. They're looking for someone who will be fair and balanced in their judgements, not someone with a hidden agenda."

Brock, and assistant prosecutor of 11 years, said that he saw the judge position as a good way to continue his work in public service.

"Basically, I view it as a continuation of my career in public service," said Brock. "I feel I can do a lot of good as a municipal judge. It's kind of the same thing I do as a prosecutor, to make sure the right results happen."

According to Rudd, prosecutors are often known to become judges, which Rudd said isn't much of a stretch. Typically, prosecutors and public defenders are known for their desire to serve the public, often passing by a more financially lucrative private practice. Current Clermont County judges Haddad, Shriver and Herman were all prosecutors at one point.

"It's not common or uncommon," said Rudd. "There is a variety of backgrounds, but what you often find with attorneys who have chosen to go as a prosecutor instead of private practice is someone who is dedicating themselves to public service. That also came across in the way that Tony gave his presentation, he's devoted to public service. A lot of the time you deal with assistant prosecutors, they usually make less money than they would make if they were members of the private bar."

"A decent portion of even the private bar has served either as an assistant public defender or as an assistant prosecutor," added Rudd.

Brock has served almost his entire legal career as a prosecutor, logging only the first two years of his career in the public sector.

"I've been an assistant prosecutor since January of 1995," said Brock. "I've been in the practice of law since 1993. I worked in a civil firm for a couple of years and have been in the prosecutor's office since then. I'm also an instructor at the University of Cincinnati Clermont college police academy. I've been certified for the Ohio Peace Officer's Training Council since 2002. I've taught at that academy since then on legal subjects."
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