Marietta Municipal Court Judge

Paul Bertram

¯ Age: 55.

¯ Address: 102 Sassafras Trace.

¯ Occupation: Attorney; Law director for the city of Marietta.

¯ Previous public offices held: Marietta City Council at large; Marietta City Council president; city law director.

1. As candidates, you’ve both indicated support for a drug court. Is that financially feasible and do you think it will come to fruition? Are there alternative solutions to the impact the drug epidemic is having on the court system?

The Drug Court is financially feasible and is a must! Washington County cannot afford not to implement a drug court. The opioid epidemic is crippling our nation and we all bear its cost. Drug court treats addiction by detoxifying addicts and tailoring personalized treatment programs to each individual’s specific needs. Wood County operates a drug court and has seen a monumental improvement in opiate-related problems. Why not us?

Granted, a drug court is only one necessary piece of a larger puzzle. The Court’s present “Thinking for a Change” program would strengthen the work of the drug court. Churches, hospitals and businesses should partner to address this problem. We need transitional job training for recovering addicts, as well as mentorship opportunities. Employers need to hire recovering addicts, and we need a ride-to-work program to provide transportation to and from work for those without licenses or insurance. The drug court must also work with the “Ohio Means Jobs” Center, the Oriana House, Westbrook Health Services, the Rural Women’s Recovery Program, L&P Services and similar facilities providing local drug treatment and mental health counseling.

To fund the drug court, I will review and audit the court’s current budget and special funds such as the Alcohol Indigent Fund, seeking funds to re-route to the drug court. Any funds not currently being used to their full potential will be considered for the drug court. I will also seek grant money. The government has recently appropriated grants through various agencies to combat opioid addiction. There are grants available from the Department of Justice (Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance), Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne Public Safety and Protection Program), DARA dollars, Senator Rob Portman’s Office, the Ohio Attorney General, NADCP (National Association of Drug Court Professionals) and Sister’s Health Foundation.

2. If elected, what would you do differently than Judge Welch has in recent years? What new programs or services would you bring?

As judge, I will have several important priorities which will depart from how the court has operated under Judge Welch.

First, I will develop a mediation program to be used in civil cases filed in Marietta Municipal Court. Funding for mediation exists through the Supreme Court of Ohio. The Washington County Court of Common Pleas uses mediation in its civil cases and domestic relations cases. Mediation has proven to be quite effective.

Second, I will be decisive and make prompt decisions on matters pending before the court. I will not let cases sit without decisions because “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.”

Third, I will change the pretrial process. I will make changes to the day-to-day efficiency of the Court to make the judicial system less burdensome for victims, witnesses, jurors, defendants, prosecutors and defense attorneys. I will change the current arraignment process so that it will no longer interfere with pretrials. This will ensure that everyone has enough time dedicated to their cases that they get their “fair day in court.”

Fourth, I will establish a plan approved by the Ohio Supreme Court to make the court system more easily accessible to the public. I will develop a plan not only to put the court’s docket online, but to offer an opportunity for electronic filing and viewing of court documents.

Fifth, I will update and adopt “Local Rules of Court” so that the attorneys and all parties involved in court proceedings will have guidance.

Finally, I will uphold the rules governing judicial conduct and will treat ALL persons who come before the court with fairness, dignity, respect and courtesy.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR VOTE!

Janet Dyar Welch

¯ Age: 62.

¯ Address: 101 Split Rock Drive.

¯ Occupation: Marietta Municipal Court Judge.

¯ Previous public offices held: Current judge.

1. As candidates, you’ve both indicated support for a drug court. Is that financially feasible and do you think it will come to fruition? Are there alternative solutions to the impact the drug epidemic is having on the court system?

A drug court may be particularly appropriate to felony court since the heroin and other opiate cases and other crimes such as possession of crack cocaine and methamphetamines are all felonies.

To be effective, a drug court must operate by risk of recidivism of offenders and use evidence based practices like my probation department has done for years.

Judge Lane, now retired, and I applied for a collaborative drug court grant in 2012. That application was denied but that model of two distinct courts working together is now gaining acceptance since it should increase offender accountability and reduces operating expenses.

I operate my probation department on those principles and sustain it and services to about 200 moderate to very-high risk offenders at any one time. The money to provide these services comes from the community corrections grant and probation fees.

The drug court model calls for a limited docket of participants, often less than 30 at any time. I prefer, as Judge and a member of the community, to incorporate drug treatment into intensive probation services and serve the 200.

2. You have said you would like one last term to finish some things. To what are you referring?

I intend to focus on the second purpose of misdemeanor sentencing: to protect the public from future crime. As part of that and for the first two terms, I have consistently ordered restitution as part of sentencing where an order of restitution is permitted. In addition, victim input and participation is encouraged as permitted by law.

The target for this term is to change offender behavior and to rehabilitate the offender. As Judge, I revamped the Probation Department to require quality tested and evidence based assessments of convicted defendants, active supervision of high risk offenders and sustained involvement in probationers’ lives. Where drugs are a significant driver of criminal conduct, and it usually is, the Probation Department works to place and keep these offenders in long term, quality drug rehabilitation programs. My probation staff works with law enforcement as well as other community partners to improve offender behavior.

The goal of transitioning to a paperless court is more than saving ink, paper and staff time. The system will greatly expand the public’s ability to access court services electronically. The first three steps of my long range plan have been implemented. The court has established off-site electronic storage and backup of records. This is necessary, both as a practical matter and to comply with Disaster Planning Directive of the Ohio Supreme Court. The court accepts e-tickets and operates a scanning system. We are paperless in probation.

I expect to implement the final steps over the next four years. The court capital improvement and computer funds, both user-generated, will pay the $62,244 price tag plus related hardware upgrades.

There are multiple steps to provide notice and to implement local rules. My clerk and I are scheduled to attend a training class in Columbus Nov. 29 to assure we know the rules and to follow them properly.