Farewell to Judge White

ST. CLAIRSVILLE Western County Court Judge Harry White was honored by friends and colleagues at the courthouse Friday, having retired after 34 years on the bench.

Common Pleas Court Judge John M. Solovan hosted a gathering in his courtroom. He noted that during White’s time as an attorney and count court judge, he also served on the Ohio Supreme Court Board of Commissioners and Grievances and Discipline, 1989-1995, and as a master commissioner 1996-2012. Solovan thanked White for providing guidance and precedent as well as his dedication to the community.

Northern Division Judge Frank Fregiato and Juvenile Court Judge Mark Costine spoke about their time working with White in the role of attorney and judge and wished him well. Incoming Western Court Judge Eric Costine credited him with maintaining an efficient office and staff which he will be proud to helm. They noted White’s influence on the court process and the high standards he set in his courtroom.

Public Defender Frank Pierce, Assistant Prosecutor Helen Yonak, and attorney Al Davies described White’s influence on their practice and his contribution to the cooperation between the courts.

In a separate interview, White considered his time on the bench and how the duties have changed in the past three and a half decades.

“The job has obviously evolved into a much more complex job. The cases are broader in scope, the legislature has over the years consistently given more jurisdiction to the county and municipal courts. Technology has brought a great change to us,” he said, noting the complexity of some of the issues that have come down from higher courts. “It was an ongoing challenge to keep abreast of those changes.”

White spoke about the important place his and other county courts occupy in the community.

“Sometimes I refer to the county court system as the emergency room of the justice system. Basically, everything starts there. The initial filings of complaints, the search warrants, the arrest warrants. The level of cases has increased for a number of reasons,” he said, noting the broader scope of cases they are permitted to hear and resolve. “I was dealing with things that I thought I would never have to deal with when I first started. It’s an evolving system.”

He reflected on his experiences on the bench.

“There are obviously matters that brought a smile to my face. There were matters that caused me a great deal of anxiety, and there were matters where I had to work my tail off because of the complexity of the issues. I went to work every day looking forward to the challenge of it,” he said. “It’s just reached a point where my children are raised on their own and it’s time to spend a little time at home with them and not have the burdens of the court schedule.”

He extended gratitude and credit to his staff in their commitment to delivering efficient fair and equitable system of justice to the people.

“It’s been a cooperative effort among a lot of people to get it done,” he said.

White said he plans to remain in St. Clairsville and continue practicing law. He added that he looks forward to the chance to relax and set his own pace.

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com