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Published: Friday, 11/4/2005

3 seek seat of retiring municipal court judge

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The election to replace a retiring judge in Toledo Municipal Court is unusual in that there are three candidates.

They are Robert Christiansen, a former Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge; Dan Pilrose, an assistant city prosecutor who is endorsed by the Democratic Party, and Samuel Nugent, a senior litigation attorney in the city law department.

They are seeking to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Mary Grace Trimboli, whose six-year term expires at the end of year.

The annual salary for the office is $105,950.

All three candidates graduated from the University of Toledo college of law.

Only Mr. Christiansen, 57, has experience in elected office. A common pleas court judge for nearly 22 years, he retired last year to run unsuccessfully for a vacancy on Ohio's 6th District Court of Appeals.

Mr. Christiansen, the Republican Party candidate, said he was approached by lawyers to run and decided that municipal court would offer a new challenge.

He said he earned the reputation in common pleas court for moving cases and resolving civil complaints.

"Everybody knows about the tremendous caseload in municipal court. The cases need to be moved more efficiency and effectively, but each person who comes before the court needs to be treated individually. I know how the court system works," he said.

Since January, Mr. Christiansen has been assigned as a visiting judge to handle cases in common pleas courts throughout the state.

He said he would implement video arraignments in municipal court to improve efficiency.

Mr. Pilrose, 57, has been an assistant prosecutor for the city since 1987, a year after he received a law degree from UT.

He worked for 10 years as a caseworker in the Lucas County Department of Human Services before joining the prosecutor's office. He was president of AFSCME Local 544 while employed with the county.

He said his career as a prosecutor has included representing the city in thousands of misdemeanor cases as well as litigation in the appeals court.

"My home is the municipal court. That is where I have spent much of my career. That is what I am best adapted for," he said. "I pride myself in being a trial attorney."

Mr. Nugent, 53, is the endorsed candidate of lucascountydemocrats.org. He joined the state attorney general in 1978 and became an assistant prosecutor for the city in 1979.

Since 1983, he has worked as a senior attorney in the law department, representing the city in common pleas, appellate, and federal courts in litigation varying from constitutional issues and discrimination to employee misconduct and personal injury.

"I enjoy the challenge of analyzing legal issues and reaching the correct result," he said, adding that his efforts have saved the city millions of dollars.

He served as acting chief prosecutor from 1999 to 2001 when he supervised the prosecutors in the office. Mr. Nugent said he improved efficiency and addressed management issues during the 14 months that he was chief prosecutor and implemented procedures that doubled the conviction rate for crimes against women.

Mr. Pilrose and Mr. Nugent are running for office for the first time.

Mr. Pilrose is endorsed by the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association. The Toledo Police Command Officers Association is supporting Mr. Nugent.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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