Judge takes oath of office

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times Marietta Municipal Court Judge Janet Dyar Welch takes the oath of office Thursday morning for her third term. The oath was administered by Marietta attorney James Addison in Courtroom A, where about 100 people attended to witness the ceremony.

About 100 people, an overflow crowd for Marietta Municipal Courtroom A, gathered Thursday morning to witness Janet Dyar Welch take the oath of office for her third term as the city’s municipal court judge.

Former judge Ed Lane described it as “a solemn but happy occasion” in his opening remarks, noting that before she became a judge, Welch was a feared prosecuting attorney.

Welch was sworn in by Marietta attorney James Addison.

She spoke to the crowd about her priorities for the next six years, including completion of the court’s program toward digital rather than paper records, which she said will improve access and efficiency and reduce costs.

The drug crisis in the area, she said, is the top priority for the community leaders and ordinary people she has spoken to, and their expectation is that the justice system needs to take the lead in the addressing it.

The courts and law enforcement, she said, can’t do it in isolation but rather need to develop protocols and programs in cooperation with other community-based agencies.

She said after the ceremony that the courts, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies are working on a series of protocols that include an analysis of the Good Samaritan Law, led by Marietta Police Chief Rodney Hupp, to encourage people to report overdoses, allowing emergency response personnel to treat victims sooner.

“With these overdose cases, there is frustration about how to apply that law. Chief Hupp is working through the statute, and we’re looking for an organized response,” she said, adding that participation from the prosecutor’s office will be a crucial element.

A grant of $100,000 will also help craft a pretrial diversion program through the probation department, she said.

“The problem isn’t going to be solved by 90 days of rehab,” she said. “It requires contact with other agencies. We can’t operate in isolation. This is a rent in the social fabric.”

Welch is a Fort Frye High School and Marietta College graduate, and she obtained her law degree from The Ohio State University College of Law. After graduation, she returned to Washington County to work as assistant law director for the City of Marietta for five years, primarily as a municipal court prosecutor.

She then opened a private law practice, and after 20 years ran for municipal court judge and took office in 2006 and again in 2012. She won the Nov. 8, 2017, election with 67 percent of the vote against challenger Paul Bertram III.