Three vying in Jefferson judicial race

STEUBENVILLE — Three attorneys are vying for the Jefferson County Common Pleas Court seat being vacated by retiring Judge David Henderson.

Craig Allen, 52, of 1117 Federal St., Toronto; Michelle Garcia Miller, 50, of 1218 Township Road 156, Rayland; and Lydia Spragin, 52, of 333 S. Fourth St. are on the ballot in the May 6 Democratic primary.

Spragin is a graduate of the University of Akron School of Law. She was a member of the Panel of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy trustees, Region 9, from 1997 through 2009, and served on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern Ohio District, Strategic Planning Committee for two years beginning in 2002. She also is an ordained pastor and a member of the Ohio Valley Pastor’s Network.

“Ideally, a judge should know not only the law and how to apply it properly, but should also have experience in practicing law. … I have 19 years of legal experience representing clients in municipal, state and federal courts,” she said. “I have been appointed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee where I managed $2.1 million in assets; worked for a Fortune 500 company; interned in a city law department/prosecutor’s office as well as for a state legislative affairs office; served as a teacher, a pharmacist and a pastor.

“I am running for judge because I have the experience that is required and necessary to best serve the residents of Jefferson County, and the heart to tackle the tough problems, such as our rising crime rate, with collaborative, creative, cost-effective, court-based solutions.”

As for her goals if elected, Spragin said she would implement a mental health court, continue the drug court and follow the state’s sentencing guidelines.

Miller, who also is a registered nurse, received her law degree in 2001 from Northern Kentucky University. She operates her own practice, and has been solicitor for the villages of Smithfield, Rayland and Tiltonsville and for Wells Township.

Miller has been a common pleas court magistrate in domestic cases since 2013.

“As a practicing trial attorney and common pleas magistrate, I am acutely aware of the needs of our community. I see it every day,” she said. “Since the very beginning of my legal career, I have been involved with complex litigation and highly sophisticated trial work in both civil and felony criminal litigation. I have worked in both large and small law firms.

“Now more than ever, I am certain that we need a strong, independent judiciary. As an experienced trial attorney and magistrate, I know the importance of commitment, hard work and effort that is required to ensure that every citizen is treated fairly and impartially while holding those fully accountable under the law. I am the only candidate with judicial training by the Ohio State Supreme Court and the only candidate with actual judicial experience.” Allen is a graduate of the University of Toledo College of Law. He worked as a judicial law clerk in the U.S. bankruptcy courts in the Eastern and Western district of Arkansas. He is a former assistant in the county prosecutor’s office, serving there from 1993 through 2004. In February 2005, he opened his private practice.

He currently is the law director in Toronto, having served from 2000-03 and 2008 to the present.

“I am qualified to be a common pleas judge because I have practiced law in the common pleas court for more than 22 years. I have worked as an attorney conducting felony jury trials as both a prosecutor and as a defense attorney,” he said. “Furthermore, I have represented numerous clients in divorce cases, child-custody disputes, probate court guardianships, probate estates and other civil cases.”

Allen said his goals include administering the cases before the court in a timely manner. “Over my more than 22 years of jury trial experience and my volunteer work throughout the Jefferson County community, I have developed the maturity, the sense of responsibility and the understanding of the importance of respecting all people that is needed to perform the functions of a common pleas judge for the benefit of all of Jefferson County, not just a select few.”