The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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April 26, 2014

Several vie for Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court judge seats

JEFFERSON — Ashtabula County voters will decide, May 6, who will be their candidates for three Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court judges in the November election.

Judge Ronald Vettel, Judge Alfred Mackey and Judge Charles Hague will all retire at the end of the year due to statutory age limitations.

Running for Vettel’s seat under the Democratic ticket are Ashtabula attorney Samuel Altier, Jefferson attorney Virginia Miller and Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court Administrator Marianne Sezon. The winner in the primary will face Ashtabula County Asst. Prosecutor Harold E. Specht, a Republican, in November.

Altier graduated from The Ohio State University in 1978 and received a law degree from the University of Akron four years later. In 1983, he began a two-year stint as an assistant for former county prosecutor John Cardinal. Altier went into private practice with Bill Bobulsky in 1985 and maintained a private practice in 1996.

For 30 years Altier has worked in all courts in northeast Ohio, as well as the 11th District Court of Appeals, Ohio Supreme Court and the U.S. District Court.

He is active with various bar associations and other organizations.

Miller has been in private practice since 1989, and with the Jefferson law firm of Smith and Miller since 1997, focusing on litigation, civil and criminal law. Miller was also an assistant county prosecutor from 1991 to early 1997 working for former county prosecutor Greg Brown.

She has had extensive experience in both misdemeanor and felony trials. The focus of her career has been being in the courtroom and presenting evidence to the court on behalf of her many clients. She has served for many years as an acting judge in Ashtabula County Court, eastern and western districts. Miller is bar counsel for the Ashtabula County Bar Association’s Certified Grievance Committee and is a member of the Domestic Relations Committee.

Miller offers almost 25 years of experience presenting and trying cases, dealing with numerous attorneys from northeast Ohio, working with community leaders and agencies and, striving to insure that working men and women have access to the courts and have their case heard and decided fairly in a timely  manner.

Sezon holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Akron School of Law, as well as a M.Ed. and B.A. from John Carroll University.

Over a span of more than 16 years, Sezon has held positions within the court including staff attorney, magistrate, and court administrator.  During her tenure, she has assisted the Court in making its rulings of over 4,000 cases in a wide variety of practice areas including personal injury, real estate, foreclosure, domestic relations, worker’s compensation, professional torts, administrative appeals, product liability and criminal law.  From her years of “hands-on” court perspective experience, Sezon has familiarity with the multitude of legal issues the Common Pleas Court faces on its docket.

Sezon’s experience also includes participation in Judge Mackey’s Drug Court that was recently recognized, and provided special funding, for its innovative approach in providing alternative sentences to low-end drug offenders who show promise for leading a drug free life.

Running for Mackey’s seat are Democratic candidates Tom Brown and Conneaut Municipal Court Judge Thomas Harris. The winner of the primary will face Assistant County Prosecutor Ariana Tarighati, a Republican, in November.

Brown is a graduate of Ohio University and the Nova Law Center on Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army and received the Bronze Star while serving in Vietnam.

Brown moved to Geneva and began practicing law in 1981 when he launched the firm of O’Neill and Brown with now Ohio Supreme Court Justice William M. O’Neill. Brown currently practices in Ashtabula with attorney Kenneth Piper.

Throughout his 32 years of service, Brown has dedicated his career to serving the people of Ashtabula County. In addition to his work in private practice, Brown was appointed as Special Counsel to Ohio Attorney General Anthony J. Celebreeze, Jr. in 1983 and continued to serve under Attorney General Lee Fisher through 1995.

Harris graduated from the University of Akron with a bachelor’s degree in business in 1979 and completed law school in 1981 at the University of Akron School of Law. He was appointed to the Conneaut Municipal Court by the Governor of the State of Ohio in 1988 and has been elected in 1989, 1995, 2001, 2007 and 2013.

He is past president of the Association of Municipal and County Court Judges of Ohio; he is a member of the Northern Ohio Judges Association, the Ashtabula County Bar Association and the American Judges Association. Harris is a former member of the Executive Board of the Ohio Judicial Conference and a former chairman of the Criminal Law and Procedure Committee for the Ohio Judicial Conference.

Harris has been an instructor for the Ohio Judicial College, has attended the National Judicial College, and has served as a mentor for new judges. Prior to becoming a judge, he was the chief assistant county prosecutor for Ashtabula County and maintained a private law practice.

Ashtabula Municipal Court Judge Albert Camplese and Ashtabula County Juvenile Court Magistrate Edith Hough will run for Hague’s seat as judge for the Juvenile and Probate Divisions of the Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court under the Democratic ticket. The winner of the primary will run against Republican candidate Christopher Altier in November.

Camplese is a graduate of Ohio Northern University and received his law degree from Cleveland State University Cleveland-Marshall School of Law. Camplese succeeded Hague as judge of the Ashtabula Municipal Court, and has been elected/re-elected to the bench five times.

Camplese’s service to the bench and bar is well-recognized. As prosecutor/assistant city solicitor for the City of Ashtabula, he received several commendations and awards for dedication and exemplary service. As judge, he guided the Ashtabula Municipal Court to many firsts with respect to implementation of technology, programming and projects.

He is a member of several judicial and legal associations and has held regional and state offices in those associations. Camplese has lectured and presented extensively on general issues of law, OVI matters, welfare and fraud matters, substance abuse issues and court management topics.

Hough is a graduate of Notre Dame College of Ohio and earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Akron School of Law. She is a member of the Ashtabula County Bar Association and the Ohio State Bar Association. She is also a member of the Ohio Association of Magistrates.

Hough started her career as an intern in Stark County Family Court while in law school. She also learned her craft under the tutelage of local attorneys William Bobulsky, Thomas Simon and Kyle Smith.

Hough has been working under Hague for almost 18 years in Juvenile Court. During that time, she has worked with several professionals in the community including local school districts. Hough was instrumental in forming Truancy Court five years ago, which is a specialized court for students who have excessive absenteeism at school and has helped the school truancy issue in the county.

Ashtabula County Common Pleas Judge Gary Yost is also seeking re-election. He is running unopposed.

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