Bar Association releases judge recommendationsWritten by Bailey G. Dick | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the Toledo Bar Association (TBA) have shared their recommendations for local judgeships.
In a poll taken by TBA members between Aug. 22 and Sept. 6, local lawyers were asked if they would “highly recommend,” “recommend” or “not recommend” each of the candidates.
Members were provided with biographies of each candidate, and were asked to answer only if they had “sufficient information” about the potential judges.
The TBA told members to consider candidates’ “integrity, legal ability, legal experience, fair-mindedness, promptness, professionalism and judicial temperament,” as well as their commitment to public and community service.
Three candidates are running to fill a seat in Toledo’s Municipal Court vacated by Judge Michael Goulding, who was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Lucas County Common Pleas Court. Republican Joshua Lanzinger will run to keep his seat on the bench, as he was appointed to temporarily fill Goulding’s vacancy in September by Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Democrat Gretchen DeBacker, a lawyer in private practice, is hoping to defeat Lanzinger, as is Republican attorney Kenneth Phillips.
In the poll, 18 percent of TBA members said they would highly recommend Lanzinger to serve as judge, while 44 percent said they would recommend him. 38 percent of respondents said they would not recommend Lanzinger.
Lanzinger said he was “happy with the results” of the poll.
“I think I’ve got a very good reputation among my peers,” he said. “I am a strong advocate for my clients, but I still treat my fellow council respectfully.”
Lanzinger, a Toledo native and Iraq War veteran, has practiced law since 1998; he worked for the Ohio Attorney General’s office before being appointed to the bench.
Highest marks: DeBacker
Of all of the candidates running for judge, DeBacker received the highest percentage of highly recommend or recommend votes in the poll. While 30 percent of TBA members said they would highly recommend DeBacker for the position, 45.7 percent said they would recommend her. The final 23.7 percent said they would not recommend DeBacker.
Phillips received the lowest numbers of the three candidates. With 9.2 percent of those polled saying they would highly recommend him, while 42 percent said they would recommend him. The remaining 48.2 percent would not recommend Phillips for the bench.
Phillips said he had a mixed reaction when he saw the results of the Bar Association’s poll.
“It was about 50/50,” Phillips said. “I just figured it was OK.”
Phillips said he felt the Toledo Bar Association’s poll, which is taken during each judicial election, was not indicative of the Toledo legal community as a whole.
“We don’t give it much credence,” Phillips said. “It’s not representative of the legal community, and it’s heavily weighted with Democrats.”
“They’re somewhat hard to predict,” Lanzinger said. “I don’t know who actually participates in the polls, but I assume those that didn’t are backers of the other two candidates.”
Jenna Grubb, the director of communications for TBA, said the poll is not meant to endorse candidates and that the poll’s results are open to analysis by both the candidates and voters.
“It’s not the kind of poll that asked people for reasoning, so we can’t ascribe meaning to the numbers,” Grubb said.
Grubb said members of the TBA are highly qualified to make the recommendations.
“Legal professionals are trained and practice in law, and these are people who have close professional associations with the candidates,” she said.
Also running for a judgeship is current Municipal Court Judge Amy Berling, running unopposed to retain her position. Of the TBA members polled, 13 percent said they would highly recommend her, 34.2 voted recommend and 52.8 percent would not recommend.
The poll also asked Toledo Bar Association members about two suburban judge races.
In the Perrysburg Municipal Court race, 23.5 percent of respondents said they would highly recommend attorney Molly Mack to the bench. While 48.7 percent said they would recommend her and 27.8 percent said they would not recommend her.
Also running in Perrysburg is City Councilman Thomas Mackin. The poll found 39.9 percent of TBA members said they would highly recommend Mackin, while 48.7 percent would recommend and 11.4 percent would not recommend him.
Judge Mark Reddin of Bowling Green’s Municipal Court is running unopposed in his race, and received the highest number of highly recommend votes out of all candidates in all area races. With 55.2 percent of respondents saying they would highly recommend him, 41 percent responded recommend. Only 3.8 percent said they would not recommend Reddin.
While the poll focused on TBA members’ votes, Grubb said that citizens could make use of the information the poll provides when deciding who to vote for.
“They could read the polls, talk with attorneys they might know and talk with friends who use the legal system,” Grubb said.