Judge Sargus honored in court

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Personnel at the county courthouse turned out Friday for the retirement send-off of Common Pleas Court Judge Jennifer L. Sargus, who has held court nearly 25 years.

On behalf of the Bar Association, Al Davies presented certificates of recognition from the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives. He related a proclamation introduced by Sen. Lou Gentile, noting Sargus’ work as a public servant and community leader.

“Your keen knowledge of the law and your unfaltering devotion to the legal profession have been vital factors in your success. You have brought to the bench dignity and determination, tempered with wisdom and understanding, and you have earned the esteem and admiration of your colleagues and associates as well as the community you so capably serve.”

Magistrate Amy Busic read a proclamation sponsored by Rep. Jack Cera and Rep. Andrew Thompson.

“You have demonstrated an unwavering faith in and dedication to the highest traditions of American jurisprudence,” she said. “Over the years you have acquired a richly deserved reputation as a thoughtful, persuasive jurist, whether occupying center stage or playing a valuable role in the wings, you have made your presence felt by showing decisive leadership, sound judgment, and a visionary perspective.”

Common Pleas Court Judge John M. Solovan II spoke of his 17 years of working with Sargus.

“We’ve shared many serious, sometimes sorrowful and sometimes joyful issues,” he said, noting the ever-increasing docket. In 1984 there were 113 felony cases filed in Belmont County. Last year saw 329. The criminal docket has increased as well as the civil docket due to the oil and gas industry. The domestic docket has increased as well.

During Sargus’ watch, security equipment and personnel for the courthouse was improved through her input. The magistrate court was established, as well as computerization of the courts to link courts, police and general public. The drug court program was established, as was the family visitation center, though the latter is now no longer active. The remodeling of courtrooms and offices for court personnel was also completed, as well as utilization of the courtroom for federal judges, participation of bankruptcy judges, community corrections to coordinate with law enforcement, local mayors, and officials in programs to assist the poor, utilization of adult parole officials to help probation programs, and the courts’ close relationship with treatment agencies.

“Much of your success is based on your hard work and dedication,” Solovan said. “You have always been true to your values. You have always been a caring and considerate person to the people who come before you, and you run a dignified courtroom, and we thank you.”

Commissioner Matt Coffland congratulated Sargus on behalf of the commissioners.

“You are all such wonderful people,” Sargus said, adding that any accomplishment would not be possible without the dedicated teamwork of the courthouse staff. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will treasure this all of my days.”

Special mention went to Paula Husted in her role as the judge’s clerk.

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com