Jennifer Sargus stepped down as Belmont County Common Pleas judge last summer.
She, however, has hardly been idle. Far from it.
The personable and highly respected judge has had a full plate over the last year. She has been assigned many high profile in nature throughout Ohio.
Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court Maureen O'Conner issues the assignments for retired judges. The Supreme Court rules require that assigned judges, who have retired from the bench, be experienced and competent.
Sargus definitely fills the bill in both respects.
Last month, Sargus was appointed, with two other common pleas judges, to determine if the Athens County sheriff should continue holding office after being indicted for theft in office and money laundering. After preliminary rulings by the three judge panel, the sheriff withdrew from office.
O'Conner also appointed Sargus to the case of the Fairfield County clerk of courts, who was indicted on charges of theft in office and perjury. The three assigned Common Pleas judges again made preliminary rulings. On the morning of the scheduled trial, the clerk of courts withdrew from the office.
Late last year, Sargus was also assigned by the chief justice to try the case of Darrell Houston in the Ohio Court of Claims, which hears cases brought against the State of Ohio. Houston had served almost 16 years after conviction of murder in Cleveland. Years later, he was found to be innocent.
Ohio law provides for compensation to parties later found to be wrongfully imprisoned. In this case, Sargus conducted the first trial televised live on the Ohio Supreme Court website, courtnewsohio.gov.
"I really appreciate the assignments from Chief Justice Maureen O'Conner. It is flattering to be recognized as an experienced trial judge," Sargus said. "Chief Justice O'Conner is a great administrator and takes the assignment of cases to visiting judges very seriously."
Just last week, O'Conner appointed Sargus as the trial judge in the case of Lucas Mace, former chief of police in Glouster in southern Ohio. While chief, Glouster is accused of obstructing justice and theft in office in conjunction with a female heroin user, who allegedly stayed several nights at his home.
Sargus recently was assigned as the trial judge in a case involving the son of the only common pleas judge in a small Ohio county. The son lost his life in an automobile accident, which resulted in the lawsuit.
If her caseload wasn't enough, Sargus also teaches as an adjunct professor at the Moritz Ohio State College of Law.
She and her husband, Ed, also a judge, recently sold their St. Clairsville residence and moved to central?Ohio.
RELAY FOR LIFE
I ATTENDED Friday night's opening of the Belmont County Relay for Life at St. Clairsville High's athletic complex.
The event is paradoxical, as it is both sobering and uplifting. Despite heartbreaking stories of cancer battles, the atmosphere is one of hope, love and determination.
I have said repeatedly that the Ohio Valley has a special breed of people. We rally a round special causes. Nowhere is that reflected more than in Relays for Life.
Last year, the Belmont County event raised $97,000. That is nothing short of amazing. This year's goal is $100,000, and final totals have not yet been tabulated.
It's been said that it takes a village to raise a family. That being the case, it takes a well-oiled and passionate legion of volunteers to make Relays for Life so successful.
Barb Ballint, Maggie Truchan and Tina Bissett are the co-chairs of the Belmont County Relay. They were aided by Steve Gillis, American Cancer staff rep. Their leadership is superbly supported by countless volunteers committed to the cancer crusade cause.
It is heartwarming to see so many people willing to donate their time, talents and money in the fight against cancer.
Martins Ferry's Gwynne Messenger opened the festivities with a splendid rendition of The National Anthem.
I was honored to walk a few laps with Martins Ferry's Carol Sommer.
IN CONJUNCTION with observance of Flag Day, The Times Leader had our U.S. and Ohio flags replaced Thursday. Doing the honors was the Belmont County Veterans Association.
The six members performing the task were: Gordon?Waide, Bob?Farmer,?Rod Kovacs, John Ciesielka,?Pat Kovacs and Ron Salvador.
They are six of the most outgoing, helpful and patriotic guys you will ever find. They did our flag replacement in quick fashion and even straightened out both poles.
They established the Belmont County Veterans Association to offer better services to fallen veterans. The association was formed from members of the VFW, American Legion and DAV posts.
The association will provide services to veterans families at the funeral home as well as the burial site. They are hands on in all aspects of making sure veterans are laid to rest in proper fashion.
HALL OF FAME
Monsignor Mark Froehlich stopped in and paid a visit Thursday morning.
He is one of the biggest Cleveland Indians' fans you will ever rub elbows with.
He informed me that former Indians' broadcasting legend Jim Dudley will be inducted into the team's hall of fame on June 21. The Dudley family has invited Monsignor Froehlich to join them on the field that day to take part in the celebration. He gladly accepted.
Kenny Lofton, former Tribe centerfield standout, is also going into the hall that day.
Monsignor Froehlich also recalled his visit to Cooperstown in 1997 as part of the Niekro delegation when Phil was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Monsignor celebrated mass one morning at Cooperstown with such notables in attendance as Ted Williams and Stan Musial, in addition to the Niekros.
He said Musial stayed after Mass and talked with him for more than an hour, one-to-one. Monsignor said he escorted "Stan the Man" back to his room as he was battling age issued.
Monsignor celebrated Mass the next day and Brooks Robinson was in the front row, amongst other baseball legends.
KATIE MOKROS enjoyed a tremendous showing in the Ohio Division III State Track meet last weekend. The Canton Central Catholic senior finished as state runnerup in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Her grandfather, Tom Mokros, is a 1965 Bellaire High graduate.
WHEELING CENTRAL High graduate John Corbett -- of Northern Exposure fame -- is the co-star in the sequel to the 2002 culture-clash comedy "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Nia Vardalos will play the lead role.
THE BELLAIRE Chamber of Commerce will hold its monthly luncheon meeting Thursday at the Country Club Retirement Center at noon. Belmont County Commissioner Matt Coffland will be the featured speaker. RSVPs for lunch are due by Tuesday. The phone number is 740-676-9723 while e-mail address is bellairechamber.net
STATE REP. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) is hosting a town hall meeting in Martins Ferry Monday at 6 p.m. in the Martins Ferry City Council chambers.
CONGRATULATIONS TO Martins Ferry High Baseball Coach Anthony Reasbeck and Brittany Cook, daughter of Barnesville High Athletic Director Mark Cook, as they exchanged wedding vows Saturday.
THE BELLAIRE Sons of Italy has scheduled its annual bocci tournament for Friday, June 28. It will be a double-elimination event. Entry fee is $50 and prize money will be awarded. For more information, contact Doug Hartlieb at 1-304-281-2203.
THE MARTINS Ferry Chamber of Commerce's hot dog sale Wednesday was a huge success. I was happy with my three dogs.
TO ALL dads, we wish you a most special day.
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