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Local judges lend a hand after Harrison County official dies

T-L Photo/CARRI GRAHAM Retired Harrison County judge Michael Nunner talks to Harrison County commissioners Wednesday morning about who will temporarily fill in for Harrison County Court Judge Mark Beetham, who died Oct. 9. Local judges from Belmont County will help with the caseload until Gov. Mike DeWine appoints another county court judge.

CADIZ — Local retired and sitting judges in the area will assist with court cases following the death of Harrison County Court Judge T. Mark Beetham.

Beetham, 70, died Oct. 9 due to a breakthrough case of COVID-19. He was the longest serving county court judge in Harrison County history, having served for nearly 20 years.

Retired Harrison County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Nunner met with Harrison County Commissioners Paul Coffland and Don Bethel Wednesday to update them on how the court would proceed after the unexpected death of Beetham. Commissioner Dale Norris was absent from the meeting.

“It’s tragic to have to come in and follow up to Judge Beetham; however, the (Ohio) Supreme Court has procedures in place to meet emergencies such as that. .. What they’ve done is they’ve appointed a team of retired judges and sitting judges to handle those responsibilities in the court,” he explained to commissioners.

While Nunner, who retired in 2012, will serve as the administrative judge for the court, other judges from Belmont, Carroll, Tuscarawas and Columbiana counties have also agreed to help out.

“The work is being shouldered by quite a few judges. We have Judge Eric Costine from the Belmont County Court Western Division; Judge Gary Willen from the Carroll County Municipal Court; Judge Greg Hilliard from the Tuscarawas County Court. They are currently sitting in those courts; they have agreed to help out and have already heard some cases,” he said.

“We also have retired Judge Edward O’Farrell from the Tuscarawas Common Pleas Court; retired Judge Mark Frost from Columbiana County who will be available to assist the court.”

Nunner said they have court cases scheduled through the second week of November.

“They are going to proceed along. Of course the cases from last week were continued, but we do not expect any delays that would be of any impact to the court or litigants,” he added.

Coffland thanked Nunner for stepping up and helping out the county.

Beetham’s position as county court judge will remain empty until Gov. Mike DeWine appoints someone to fill the seat. It is unclear how long it may be until that happens.

Following the meeting, Nunner spoke fondly of Beetham.

“He was a great guy and a terrific lawyer. He was very concerned about his duties and about the community as a whole and responding to the cases that he had in a fair and professional manner. Any lawyer that ever met up with Judge Beetham knew that he was a terrific lawyer and they had their work cut out for them,” he said.

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