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Published: Wednesday, 11/1/2006

Blade Endorsement: For Common Pleas Court

ANYONE who reads The Blade's Pages of Opinion knows that we're emphatically "pro-choice." That is, we fervently believe voters deserve a choice of candidates in every election. So-called "uncontested races" - with a single candidate, there's no race at all - diminish the electoral process, which depends on strong and vibrant political parties.

In the judicial world, however, contested races are comparatively rare, since lawyers are often hesitant to enter the political thicket or challenge sitting judges in front of whom they may have to practice.

This year, three of the seven Lucas County Common Pleas Court seats up for election are contested. (Judges James Bates and Gary Cook are uncontested for re-election, as are Domestic Relations Judge David Lewandowski and Judge James Ray, of the juvenile division.)

For the three contested seats, which carry six-year terms, we recommend that voters retain long-time incumbent Judge Charles Doneghy and elect promising newcomers Stacy Cook and James Nusbaum.

Judge Doneghy, who began practicing law in Toledo in the mid-1960s, was appointed to the common pleas bench in 1984, was elected to an unexpired term, and subsequently won three full terms - all without opposition.

Before that, he was a judge on Toledo Municipal Court for six years, and prior to that he tried major criminal cases as an assistant county prosecutor. His experience and judgment in trial procedure, demonstrated over nearly 40 years, is both broad and deep, in sharp contrast to his opponent, independent Mark Davis, who has virtually none.

In the realm of experience, Stacy Cook has served as acting judge in Maumee Municipal Court for four years in addition to practicing law for 12 years, and we believe she is ready to move up to the common pleas bench.

Ms. Cook seems to have the better temperament for the job, and would be quicker to hit the judicial ground running than her opponent, Michael Goulding, who has less legal experience.

In the third race, we give the edge to James Nusbaum, a sharp young attorney who is a member of the Sylvania school board, over incumbent Judge Linda Jennings, who is finishing out a seven-month appointment by Gov. Bob Taft.

Ms. Jennings had long sought a judicial appointment, but we think Lucas County residents would be better served in coming years if they give the job to Mr. Nusbaum. In 2005, he was among the winners of the "20 under 40" community leadership award.

To reiterate, in the three contested races for Lucas County Common Pleas Court, The Blade's choices are Judge Charles Doneghy, Stacy Cook, and James Nusbaum.



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