Thursday, December 01, 2005

More Games on the Court.

This week's West Side Leader has the latest salvos in the Battle of Summit County Common Pleas. (I missed the BJ editorial last Friday.) Now seven of the eight judges have signed off on a plan to push the bulk of civil litigation back to wade through their criminal case loads.

The breadth of the defections is a serious mutiny in Lord Alex’s fiefdom. While the Democrats – Bond, Shapiro and Stormer – have never hesitated in telling Alex to pound salt, and Mary Spicer has long asserted her independence, Murphy and Unruh have generally stayed on the reservation. Now only Judy Hunter remains. She was deep in Alex’s pocket even before she lost her seat on Juvenile Court and was granted a second chance with a General Division appointment.

Alex’s latest cover story is that he will “allow” – bear in mind, no one elected him to anything – allow the Common Pleas add-on to go forward, but wants an additional judge in Cuyahoga Falls Muni and in the Juvenile Division.

Though the Leader story doesn’t say, presumably Democrats in the GA are balking at the new add-ons. The Common Pleas judges are agnostic on whether to add onto CF Muni and Juvenile Division, they simply ask that the issues be considered separately. A reasonable enough position, but apparently not reasonable enough to prevent State Rep. John Widowfield (R-42 ) from calling it "hypocritical."

Hypocritical? Let's review recent history. Back when Judy Hunter was Juvenile Division Judge, attorneys practicing there begged for a new judgeship. General Division judges agreed. Alex didn't. Why risk a Democrat being elected and split control over all those patronage jobs. Then Hunter lost to Linda Tucci Teodosio and Alex's position changed hilariously quickly. Meanwhile, Judge Teodosio streamlined procedures, appointed good magistrates and got the docket under control. She says she no longer needs another judge. But of course another judge is Alex's only chance to get his hooks back into Juvenile Division.

Clearly, Summit will only have new judgeships when Democrats control a majority of the existing General Division seats. Let's work on that.