Office: For Judge of the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas, General/Domestic Relations Division
Full Term Beginning 1/2/2021
Social Media: www.Facebook: Lane for Judge; Instagram: lane_for_judge
Occupation: Director, The Ashtabula County Public Defender Office, Inc.
Education: J.D., Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
Work Experience: Director, The Ashtabula County Public Defender Office, Inc. (1998 – present) Assistant Public Defender, Stark County Public Defender’s Office (1992-1998)
Affiliations: Vice President, Ashtabula County Metroparks Board (board member since 2016); Ashtabula County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board (2008 – 2018; President 2014-2016); Ashtabula Area College Committee (2015 – present); Fraternal Order of Police Associates, Ashtabula Lodge #A94 (2016 – present); Member and Past Exalted Ruler, Ashtabula Elks Lodge #208 (2004 – present); American Legion Auxiliary, Ashtabula Post #103 (2002 – present); Community Member of Lift Bridge Community Association (2017 – present); Ohio Supreme Court Commission on Specialized Dockets, Defense Attorney Representative (2013 – present); Ohio Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Specialized Dockets, Defense Attorney Representative (2009 – 2012); National Association of Drug Court Professionals, Faculty Consultant (2018 – present); Treasurer, Ashtabula County Bar Association (President, 2010 – 2012); Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (2003 – present)
Endorsements: Ashtabula County AFL-CIO
Bar Association Ratings: The Ashtabula County Bar Association does not rate candidates.
(1) List your judicial experience (courts and years)
N/A. However, as a faculty consultant for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, I have provided training and continuing education to judges regarding the best practices for the operation of drug courts. During the 2019 Ohio Supreme Court Specialized Docket Conference, I was the presenter of “Legal Updates for Ohio’s Judges, Prosecutors, and Defense Lawyers.”
(2) What about your non-judicial legal experience qualifies you to be a judge?
As the Chief Public Defender, I have twenty two (22) years of continuous litigation experience in the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas; litigating the big felony cases in front of the bench is critical experience for handling these cases from the bench. I am also an innovator in criminal justice as a founding member of the felony drug court program. In 2008, a group of us realized that we cannot incarcerate our way out of the drug problem, which at the time was methamphetamine. There is a theory, which I agree with completely, that we should lock up the offenders that we are afraid of and treat the offenders that we are mad at. If we do not address the problem early on, when offenders are nonviolent, their criminal behavior only escalates.
Judges need to reexamine their sentencing practices as changing sentencing laws push the responsibility on the local communities to supervise and manage the offenders, as opposed to just incarcerating them in state penal institutions. While it may “look good” to the public to sentence offenders to lengthy jail sentences, the bottom line is that this type of incarceration simply does not work and is a waste of taxpayer money. The money for incarceration needs to be spent on the violent and dangerous offenders. Criminal justice dollars are saved, and the community is safer, when nonviolent offenders receive the necessary intensive court supervision to break the cycle of criminal activity. I understand this, and continually work to ensure that best evidence practices are used in Ashtabula County’s criminal justice system. Because of the felony drug court program, the common pleas court was the best equipped in Ashtabula County to deal with the opiate crisis. Because of our lead, there are now four (4) treatment courts in our county, with two (2) more in the planning stages. As a common pleas judge, I will continually work to keep Ashtabula County’s criminal justice system moving in a positive direction.
(3) Why are you running for this particular court seat?
One of my mentors is recently deceased retired Federal Court Judge Thomas Lambros; he was the first person to encourage me to become a judge. Judge Lambros often told the story of going to the White House to meet with President Johnson following his appointment to the federal bench; the President said to him, “I appointed you because you look out for the little guy, so don’t disappoint me.” Judge Lambros often told me that this is why I should become a judge, because I look out for the little guy.
My love of the community has also played a role in my desire to be a common pleas judge. Working in so many areas of the community, from serving on the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board, to serving on the Metroparks Board, working with Kent State Ashtabula as part of the Area College Committee, and working with the veterans at the American Legion and the Elks Lodge, has provided me with a real appreciation for the diversity of the people in this county, and provides me with a perspective of different viewpoints. The community must have confidence that everyone who enters the courtroom will be heard, treated respectfully, and the law will be applied fairly in their cases.