Judge appointment still in limbo

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

It appears it may take a little longer than expected to appoint a replacement for late Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Frank McCown.

McCown, 67, of South Point, died last month. He had served as judge for 11 years.

Initially, it was thought that a new judge could be appointed in as few as 10 days, but now, Eric Bradshaw, deputy director of the Lawrence County Board of Elections, said that will not be the case.

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Gov. Ted Strickland is appointing an 11-member panel representing different facets of the community — labor, education, legal, etc. — to study who the best candidate for the job would be. The panel, which has not been formed, will make recommendations to the governor.

The appointee will served the remaining one year and six months in McCown’s term. The next election for common pleas judge is in November 2008.

Bradshaw said the governor’s political party usually determines who will be appointed to the position. McCown was a Democrat, the same as Strickland, so Bradshaw said a Democrat will more than likely be appointed as judge.

“He doesn’t have to appoint anyone right now or ever if he doesn’t want to,” Bradshaw explained.

Lawrence County Democratic Party Chairman Craig Allen said he has very little information about the panel that Strickland will appoint or when he could do so. Allen has been in constant contact with the governor’s office, he said, and should have more details soon.

Retired Common Pleas Judge Richard Walton started filling in for McCown when he became to ill to work and has continued to do so since the judge’s death.

Allen said Walton has been “very gracious” to give up his time and that his willingness to step in has been a blessing. Fellow Common Pleas Judge Charles Cooper is also taking some of McCown’s cases.