A Martins Ferry attorney has announced his candidacy for Judge of the Belmont County Western Division Court. Attorney William L. Thomas seeks to replace Judge Harry W. White, who announced that he will not be a candidate for re-election.
"I have served the people of Belmont County as prosecutor, and now I would like to serve as your judge, I ask for your support and pledge that I will do my best in making certain that justice is served," Thomas said. "My goal is to continue the outstanding conduct of the court as it was under Judge Harry W. White."
Thomas said that as a judge, he would have the awesome duty to listen to both sides of the story and to make decisions based on the testimony.
He explained that the county court deals primarily with misdemeanor cases. Misdemeanors are the less severe criminal cases although all criminal cases are serious ones.
The more severe criminal cases are called felonies and they are heard in the Common Pleas Court.
However, one of the most important duties of the county court judge is to determine whether or not a felony has been committed.
Once a criminal case is filed as a felony, the county court judge must schedule the matter for a hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to bind the case over to the grand jury.
The county court judge must hold an open court hearing and allow the State of Ohio to present sufficient evidence that a felony has been committed. The county court judge must then consider the evidence and make a finding of fact.
If the county court judge determines that there is sufficient evidence, then the case is ordered to be presented to the grand jury.
"I have participated in literally scores of these hearings as a prosecuting attorney and have gained a fast amount of experience in this area," Thomas said. "I feel that my 21 years as a prosecuting attorney will be an asset to me as a judge."
Thomas said in his 36 years of practicing law in Belmont County he has met all kinds of people and will always do his best to treat them honestly and to make certain that justice is served in every situation.
"My dad was a machinist at the Yorkville pant of Wheeling Steel, and he taught me to treat every one fairly."
Thomas is a graduate of Martins Ferry High School, Ohio University and the Ohio Northern University Law School. He is president of the board of directors of the Eastern Ohio Transit Authority and is a Master Mason in City Lodge, F.& A.M., Ohio.
County court judges are elected on a non-artisan basis and do not run in a primary election. Instead, candidates must file nominating petitions in August to be on the ballot in the November general election.