WILMINGTON — Two people are asking Clinton County’s registered voters to choose them for the job of running the court they’re most likely to appear before.
Sharon A. Kornman, an independent, and Republican Mike Daugherty explained their positions on court administration, protecting people and managing the court’s finances at a candidates’ night Tuesday hosted by the Clinton County Republican and Democratic parties and the News Journal at Wilmington College’s Kelly Center.
The election to choose the Clinton County Municipal Judge will be Nov. 3.
Daugherty won the Republican primary against three other candidates and was then appointed judge by Gov. John Kasich.
Kornman and Daugherty answered questions selected by the parties and submitted by the audience.
Kornman said she considers herself the best candidate for judge with more than 20 years’ practicing law and 10 years’ practice in the business field.
“I can promise that I will examine every case individually and rule on the merits, that every person before me will be judged in accordance with the law and sentenced accordingly, without discrimination,” Kornman said.
“I do it because I’m following a calling,” Daugherty said. “Clinton County Municipal Court provides justice for thousands of people a year” through misdemeanor criminal, civil and traffic cases.
A judge also provides “necessary recovery services” for those who are addicted.
“This job’s not about me, it’s about the people of Clinton County,” he said.
Safety and rights
“In (a domestic violence) situation, I’m presented with a person who is accused of a very serious offense,” Daugherty said. “There’s also seated in the back of the courtroom someone who is scared to death and who says that the person accused hurt them. This alleged victim needs to be protected. … But at the same time, I have to presume that the (accused) person is not guilty.”
Daugherty said he often chooses to separate them until the case can be decided.
“That’s a balancing act that I have to do almost every day,” he said. “But so far it’s worked.”
“When I think of keeping the residents safe, I think of our police department,” Kornman said.
“Law enforcement is there to keep our residents safe,” she continued. “Protecting rights, the judiciary is responsible for that in overseeing whatever cases come before it and protecting their constitutional rights, judging everything impartially and fairly.”
Revenues and expenditures
Daugherty said the court has tended to have a deficit for the last 15 years.
“As Ms. Kornman said, this is not the goal of the court to generate revenue, but let’s face it, we charge court costs because it’s supposed to cover the costs of the court.”
Daugherty said he’s tried to increase collections of fines and costs by building on the payment plan the court used to have and has recently contracted with the Ohio Attorney General’s office to collect on delinquent fines and costs beginning this winter. Collection costs, he said, would be an additional charge to be paid by the delinquent payer and would be collected from any state tax refunds.
He also has worked to have online payments for the court, which closes at 4 p.m. Those who want to pay after 4 p.m. have had to bring exact change, in cash, to the police department.
Kornman said courts cannot increase revenue because “it’s not a revenue generating business.”
“As far as maintaining budgetary restrictions, those things can be dealt with by. Personnel is usually the biggest money expenditure in any court and so we look at personnel that we have and if they’re being efficient. We can utilize any kind of computer technology that can make the job more efficient and faster.”
“We have to look at all areas of the budget to see where it can be trimmed, but I don’t think that the people of Clinton County would want us to become, in essence, a speed trap where we’re using writing tickets by the police department to generate income and taking that out of our citizens’ pockets.”
The candidates were asked about their judicial philosophy toward those charged with possessing drugs or manufacturing them.
“If something’s brought in front of me, I’m going to deal with it and apply the law to the facts,” Kornman said, adding that illegal manufacturing would be a felony crime not presided over by municipal court.
“It’s going to depend on how it’s charged out, but certainly that’s a very serious issue, and whatever is brought before the court, I’m going to apply the law according to the facts and dealing with it as the serious crime that it is.”
“The single most important thing I do is deal with the sons and daughters, the mothers and fathers who are addicted,” Daugherty said, adding that he sees many who are charged with possession of a heroin needle or when they’re charged with some other misdemeanor related to their addiction.
“The way I approach is to try my best to get them into recovery,” he said. “I do that with jail. I do that with residential programming. I do that with daily testing if they’re on probation.”
He said the court also makes use of medication, including Vivitrol, which prevents people from getting high on heroin, Suboxone, which helps addicts handle withdrawals, and Naloxone, or Narcan, which is used in treating overdoses.
Kornman and Daugherty declined to explain their opinions on Issue 3, a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in Ohio, citing rules judges face in campaigning.
Clinton County Democratic Chair Ann Reno said, “I think the event went very well, and we had a great turnout. There were people from different parties.”
Reno went on to say she believed the questions were fair, covered all aspects of council members and judges and helped prospective voters understand the candidates better.
“I think the event went quite well,” said Clinton County Republican Chair Tim Inwood. “The candidates had the opportunity to express themselves, how they stand on the issues facing the town … and Clinton County as well.
“They painted a vision for the future, and I think that it’s given voters the material that they need to make their judgment when it comes to pulling the lever on election day,” he continued.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.