WAUSEON - As he settles into his new job at Fulton County Western District Court, Jeffrey Robinson is thinking about how he can frame some former judges. And then he wants to hang them.
Framed portraits of district court judges would add some personality to the courtroom, said Mr. Robinson who wants to display a row of photographs behind the jury box. He's planning other updates to the courtroom, and he's implemented procedural changes that will affect the way business is conducted in the court.
"We'll employ written pleas, like they do in Common Pleas Court," said Mr. Robinson who began his duties last week as the Western District Court judge. He's also adopted a new standardized, printed form to use when he issues sentences, replacing the handwritten system that former judge James Hensal used before his resignation. Mr. Robinson, a partner in Barber, Kaper, Stamm & Robinson, was appointed recently to the post by Gov. Bob Taft.
The Western District judge hears a variety of civil, traffic, and criminal cases. The district covers the western half of the county, including the city of Wauseon, villages of Archbold and Fayette, and six townships. Last year 1,146 civil; 4,781 traffic, and 926 criminal cases were filed in the court.
Mr. Robinson, who recently resigned as law director for Wauseon, a post he held for 17 years, recalled that his first case was in the county's Eastern District Court in Swanton, a jury trial in December, 1979. Since then, he has handled cases as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney, often appearing with clients in the district court here.
"I am really familiar with how the court works," he said, but, he said, "it is a lot different sitting on this side of the desk."
He plans to be at the court every day. Because the post is a part-time job, Mr. Robinson will have time to devote to his private practice, and he plans to stay involved in community activities, church, and the Archbold Community Theatre. A member of the theater's board, he has performed in several productions.
Jerry Matheny, former Wauseon mayor who worked closely for several years with Mr. Robinson, said he's confident that the judge has the experience and enthusiasm to do a good job, and said that Mr. Robinson "will make me proud."
Mr. Robinson, 52, and Melinda Robinson, his wife of 25 years, have three children. He's been Delta's assistant village solicitor since 1979, and he served as Lyons' village solicitor from 1982 to 1988. He said that he will need to run in 2006 for the two years remaining on the six-year term.
Wauseon Mayor Jerry Dehnbostel said that Mr. Robinson "has a sincere passion not only for Wauseon, but all of Fulton County. I feel to have that type of feelings for the community goes a long way towards doing the best job possible. I feel he will leave no stone unturned to come up with fair verdicts."
Mr. Dehnbostel, who went to high school in Wauseon with Mr. Robinson, said that the new judge's "integrity is above reproach."
Mr. Robinson, Wauseon's Citizen of the Year in 2002, was a candidate last year for county prosecutor, and he served for several years on the Wauseon board of education.
"I've been involved in community service all of my life," said Mr. Robinson. His parents taught him the value of "giving back" to the community. "They said that you have to make your community a better place, that you got to matter. I want to make a difference."
A judge has an "awesome responsibility," he said. "I just hope I carry that responsibility well."
Contact Janet Romaker at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6006.