New courthouse faces
Seamless transition for Kerenyi; Jedlink ready to mediate
At the Washington County Courthouse, familiar faces have taken on new positions and one new face has joined the ranks of the prosecutor’s office this year.
R. Kelly Hamilton, 48, of Grove City, is in his first week as assistant prosecutor, while still commuting from the Columbus area where he previously worked both as a defense and prosecuting attorney and formerly as a law enforcement officer.
“I went to law school while I was a police officer,” explained Hamilton Tuesday. “And after an injury took me off the streets I continued my career in the criminal justice system from the other squares of the law. I really do enjoy figuring out why people do the crimes they do and understanding the whole process of the law.”
Hamilton also boasts experience as a professor of criminal justice at Anderson University in South Carolina and an instructor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Mount Vernon.
He said taking the position in Washington County as an assistant prosecutor will allow him to take part in criminal prosecution at a level not available in bigger cities.
“I’ve practiced in the big city with fast-food justice, where the caseload is so huge there isn’t time to take things through to a jury trial,” said Hamilton. “I’m really looking forward to having that opportunity here and I think I’ll bring a unique perspective to the position.”
Hamilton’s starting salary is $53,000. He is replacing former assistant prosecutor Jeremy Wolfe, who had been in the position since August 2015. Wolfe accepted a position with the Wood County Prosecutor’s Office.
Washington County Court of Common Pleas
Mark Kerenyi, 49, of Marietta, has stepped up to the bench as a judge following in the footsteps of Judge Ed Lane, who retired last month.
“Judge Lane has been very helpful and has already met with me a few times to make this a seamless transition,” said Kerenyi. “It’s kind of like drinking from a fire hose because you’re taking on a bunch of things you’ve never done before and learning so much from a new perspective.”
The new judge said he has spent much of the past two weeks learning the ropes of jury selection and trials.
“Being a former prosecutor and defense attorney I’ve seen a jury trial from those perspectives,” explained Kerenyi. “But now I’m looking forward to my first jury trial, which right now is scheduled for Jan. 23.”
Kerenyi previously worked as magistrate for the juvenile and probate courts and said he has had to research more civil issues as well like foreclosure, oil and gas and medical malpractice law.
“They’re not common but I’d like to make sure I’m caught up before a case like that comes my way,” said Kerenyi.
He said part of the learning curve has been aided by his counterpart, Judge Randall Burnworth, who also serves as common pleas judge.
“There are ‘magic words’ that you have to say for every hearing and I know that there are so many mandatory things that if you don’t get the phrasing right, it’s able to be appealed,” said Kerenyi. “Being able to walk across the hall to have guidance on that from him instead of calling a judge in a different county with questions has been wonderful.”
Kerenyi’s salary is approximately $151,000.
Magistrate of Probate and Juvenile Courts
Randall Jedlink, 32, of Marietta, has taken on Kerenyi’s former position as magistrate in probate and juvenile courts, after spending the past five years in the Washington County Public Defender’s office.
“It was a good opportunity and an honor to be asked by Judge Timothy Williams,” said Jedlink. “On the defense side you’re always ready to fight on behalf of your client, but now it’s my job to mediate between the two or more fighting parties.”
As magistrate, Jedlink’s duties will focus primarily on custody and child support disputes as well as juvenile criminal cases.
“I just hope to be fair and impartial as I hear what everyone has to say,” said Jedlink. “It all comes down to what is in the best interest of the child.”
Jedlink said he is grateful to have both the guidance of Judge Williams and his predecessor Kerenyi to draw upon, and said he has also spent much of the past two weeks reading and listening to old court proceedings.
His starting salary is $65,000.
Jedlink was replaced by John Marsh at the public defender’s office. Marsh was not available for comment Tuesday.
At a glance:
– New Assistant Prosecutor – Raymond Kelly Hamilton, 48, of Grove City.
– New Common Pleas Court Judge – Mark Kerenyi, 49, of Marietta.
– New Magistrate of Probate and Juvenile Courts – Randall Jedlink, 32, of Marietta.
Source: Times research.