Toledo Municipal Court Judge Michael Goulding happened to be in Columbus on Thursday at a seminar required for all judicial candidates when he got the call letting him know he wouldn’t have to run for re-election in November.
Gov. John Kasich on Friday formally appointed Judge Goulding, 46, to the bench in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to fill the vacancy created last year by the departure of Judge James Jensen. The appointment is effective Aug. 26.
Judge Jensen left the Common Pleas Court last December after he was elected to Ohio’s 6th District Court of Appeals. The court has been operating with nine judges rather than 10 since.
“I’m filling huge shoes in that Judge Jensen is a role model for all judges especially judges coming up the chain, so to speak, like me,” Judge Goulding said.
A municipal court judge since 2007, Judge Goulding is a Toledo native who graduated from St. Frances de Sales High School, received a bachelor’s degree in English from the Ohio State University, and received his law degree from the University of Toledo in 1995. He worked as an associate attorney with the Toledo law firm of Shindler, Neff, Holmes, Schlageter & Mohler upon graduation, becoming a partner in 1999.
Judge Goulding was one of three candidates nominated for the job by the Lucas County Republican Party. Lucas County Probate Judge David Lewandowski also was interviewed for the judgeship, while local attorney Kenneth Phillips was recommended by the GOP but was not interviewed by the governor’s office.
“We had two sitting judges who are in great standing and well-respected in the legal community and who also have great name ID, so either one would be a great pick,” Lucas County Republican Party Chairman Jon Stainbrook said. “Mike Goulding will do a great job and serve honorably on the Court of Common Pleas.”
Mr. Phillips is one of three candidates seeking Judge Goulding’s seat at Toledo Municipal Court in November. Also running are Democrat Gretchen DeBacker and Republican Joshua Lanzinger. On Thursday, Democrat Joseph Howe withdrew as a candidate.
Judge Goulding said Friday that he too will withdraw his candidacy for re-election, though he plans to be on the ballot in 2014 running for the remaining two years of Judge Jensen’s term.
In the meantime, he will be making the transition to the court where felony cases are heard as well as a much larger number of civil suits than he presided over at the municipal level. He said he handled commercial litigation in private practice and looks forward to that aspect of his new job.
“Here civil cases are 5 or 10 percent of a judge’s workload, while criminal and traffic is the other,” he said. “I love the criminal and traffic. I love what I do here. I just thought it would be a fun, intellectually rewarding challenge to someday be on the common pleas bench.”
Appointed to the municipal court bench in January, 2007, and then elected to a six-year term that November, Judge Goulding took over for former Municipal Court Judge Gene Zmuda, who now is a Common Pleas judge.
“I think [Judge Goulding’s] time as a municipal court judge will be invaluable in his transition to the Common Pleas court,” Judge Zmuda said Friday. “The hustle and bustle and the pace of municipal court is so great that when you come here, you have a lot of cases, but there is a slower pace, more serious cases, and adequate time to handle them appropriately.”
Lucas County Common Pleas Judge James Bates, who serves as administrative judge for the court, said that since Judge Jensen’s departure, his criminal cases have been distributed among the remaining nine judges, while Judge Bates handled civil matters and visiting judges were brought in to preside over any civil trials.
The judges are eager to have the vacancy filled.
“I think everybody will welcome the additional person on the staff to take care of some of the load that has been redistributed,” he said.
Common Pleas judges are paid $121,350 a year.
Judge Goulding said he already has asked retired Ohio Supreme Court Justice Andy Douglas to swear him in at a yet-to-be scheduled ceremony.
Judge Goulding and his wife, Amy, have three children and are expecting a fourth in November.
Staff writer Tom Troy contributed to this report.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: email@example.com or 419-213-2134.