THE race for the lone contested seat on the Sixth District Court of Appeals is well defined by the breadth of experience of the two candidates, so well, in fact, that area voters face a tough call in the Nov. 7 election.
We recommend a vote for Thomas Osowik, currently judge of Lucas County Common Pleas Court, over the appointed incumbent, Dennis Parish, who was named to the appellate court by Gov. Bob Taft last year.
The winner will serve the remaining two years of the term formerly held by Judith Lanzinger, who was elected to the Ohio Supreme Court in 2004.
Judge Parish previously served as a juvenile court magistrate in both Wood and Lucas counties. He wants to remain among the few judges from outside Toledo who have served on the eight-county appellate court since its inception 99 years ago. But whatever geographic diversity he would bring is negligible: his home is in Perrysburg, hardly the far reaches of the 6th appellate district.
Judge Osowik has proven his skill as a jurist - and cemented his claim to the appellate post - with his expeditious handling of four high-profile legal proceedings - the aftermath of the neo-Nazi march, liquidation of slumlord John Ulmer's Westhaven real estate empire, the conviction of a priest, Gerald Robinson, for killing a nun, and the in-progress prosecution of Tom Noe for allegedly stealing more than $2 million from state rare-coin funds he managed.
That's a career-load of extraordinary cases, made all the more unusual because they came to him by the luck of the court's computer draw, and all within the past year.
The skill and evenhandedness with which Judge Osowik has dealt with these touchy and politically tinged cases in the courtroom has been admirable. Moreover, he has a good record of legal scholarship, with 17 opinions published by the state Supreme Court. After 15 years on the Toledo Municipal Court and Common Pleas Court benches, he has sterling credentials that will make him an outstanding appellate judge.
Also impressive are the credentials of Judge Parish, who with his gubernatorial appointment became the first Ohio jurist to jump directly from juvenile court magistrate to appeals court.
A native of Norwalk who grew up in Defiance, he started as an intern in the Lucas County prosecutor's office and became a juvenile court referee and magistrate in both Wood and Lucas counties. Judge Parish makes a reasonable case that the appellate court could use a judge with family-court experience.
All experience considered, however, Judge Thomas Osowik is the stronger choice for election to the Sixth District Court of Appeals.