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Published: Monday, 10/11/2010

Judicial rivals point to their experience in bid for voters


Of Lucas County's 10 Common Pleas Court general-division judges, four have terms up this year - but in only one race will voters decide who takes the bench.

Two local lawyers are vying for the seat to be vacated by Judge Denise Ann Dartt, who is completing her first term on Common Pleas Court. On the ballot are Dean Mandros, a Democrat and current chief of the criminal division of the Lucas County prosecutor's office, and Mark Davis, a Republican who is both a civil and criminal attorney.

The six-year term will start Jan. 1.

On the ballot but not facing opposition are incumbent judges Gene Zmuda, James Jensen, and Ruth Ann Franks.

On the ballot but not facing opposition are incumbent judges Gene Zmuda, James Jensen, and Ruth Ann Franks.

Mr. Mandros, 56, has prosecuted defendants in more than 100 jury trials during his nearly 30 years in the Lucas County prosecutor's office. For about 12 years of his time as an assistant prosecutor, Mr. Mandros said he also maintained a private practice that focused solely on civil litigation.

"Having worked in [the courthouse] for over 29 years, I understand the importance of a judge having actual trial experience because [Common Pleas Court] is where all the serious criminal and civil cases are litigated," he said. "There's no substitute for first-hand experience in dealing with all the evidentiary and other legal issues that arise during those types of proceedings."

A native of St. Mary's, Ohio, Mr. Mandros moved to Lucas County to attend the University of Toledo College of Law after graduating from The Ohio State University in 1977. After passing the Ohio bar exam in 1980, Mr. Mandros spent a brief period working as an assistant prosecutor in Auglaize County before being hired in the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office in September, 1981.

Davis Davis

His wife, Suzanne, is an attorney in the foreclosure division of the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office. The couple have three children.

In Lucas County, Mr. Mandros has been on the prosecutorial team in several high-profile criminal cases, including Robert Jobe, the teenager who was convicted of killing Toledo police Sgt. Keith Dressel, and Anthony and Nathaniel Cook, Toledo brothers who were convicted of several murders in the 1980s.

He was also one of the team that received a national award for the prosecution and 2006 conviction of Gerald Robinson, a Toledo Catholic priest found guilty of the 1980 murder of a nun.

Mr. Mandros, who is involved with an outreach program for at-risk youth, has been endorsed by several local groups and unions as well as being highly recommended by many of his peers in the Toledo Bar Association.

Mr. Davis, 42, a former independent now running on the Republican ticket, has spent his 11-year legal career in private practice. He points to his work in various courts across northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan as a means of bringing the best practices of other courtrooms to a Lucas County judicial seat.

Mr. Davis, who is single, said he has campaigned door-to-door in Lucas County and believes that many residents are dissatisfied with the criminal justice system. He said that he offers them a fresh perspective and a pledge to uphold the Constitution while being "tough on crime" and "business-minded."

"A lot of people don't care for the career insider. They want new blood, fresh blood," he said. "They don't want to continue with the same guy who's been there for 20 years."

Reared in Ottawa Hills, Mr. Davis, 42, has a background in business and law. He is a graduate of Ottawa Hills High School, Miami University of Ohio, and The Ohio State University College of Law.

Highlighting his business background, Mr. Davis said he believes he has handled a broad array of cases that gives him the background necessary for the bench.

Mr. Davis teaches at the University of Toledo's college of business administration as a part-time instructor. He also has served on several community committees.

This is his third time on the ballot for a seat on the bench. He was defeated in 2006 when he challenged longtime Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Charles Doneghy and in 2009 when he was one of three candidates on the ballot for Toledo Municipal Court.

Contact Erica Blake at:


or 419-213-2134.

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