Candidates For Judge Emerge For Next Year’s Race

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Four months before the filing deadline, candidates for two Athens County judge seats within the county have already begun the process of garnering support.

Local attorneys Todd Grace, Bill Biddlestone and Herman Carson have thrown their names into the hat of candidates along with incumbent acting judge George McCarthy and possibly Athens City Law Director Patrick Lang.

“I’m circulating petitions, so I’m fairly certain about going for it,” said Herman Carson, currently with the Athens County Public Defender’s Office.

Carson grew to like judging as an acting judge within the municipal court for 22 years. Carson ran for the municipal court spot in 2003 against current judge William Grim.

“I’ve handled cases in 25, maybe 26 counties in Ohio,” Carson said. He worked as a private attorney for most of that time, but was also solicitor for the village of Glouster, along with his work with the public defender’s office.

Carson is running for the unexpired term currently being filled by acting Judge George McCarthy. McCarthy was appointed to the seat when Michael Ward announced his retirement. McCarthy has expressed his interest in continuing in his role as well until the term expires in 2016, but could not be reached for comment before The Messenger’s deadline.

McCarthy previously worked as a Meigs County assistant prosecutor, and Athens city prosecutor and with the law firm Mollica, Gall, Sloan, Sillery and McCarthy, according to previous Messenger reporting.

The incumbent judge will run in the Republican primary in May and then in the November 2014 election if he succeeds in the primary. The other candidates will be placed in the Democrat elections.

Judge L. Alan Goldsberry will not be able to fight for his seat in the next election, the primary for which will be in May 2014. Goldsberry will have reached the age limit for the seat before his next term.

Biddlestone said he would only be allowed to serve one term as judge were he to win the seat, but that he would make the most of his term in Goldsberry’s place.

“I love working with people,” Biddlestone said. “I think that’s what I’ve always loved best about law is working with people.”

Biddlestone has spent more than 30 years serving in different areas of law, including civil and criminal law along with a stint as the Athens County Prosecutor.

Goldsberry’s seat is also being fought for by Todd Grace, who currently works as a private attorney along with his work as the county juvenile and probate magistrate, something he was asked to do by Juvenile Court Judge Robert Stewart.

“I have (the filing petitions) signed and I’m bringing them to the Board of Elections today,” Grace said when he spoke to The Messenger on Friday.

Grace also has experience as an acting judge within the municipal court. Judge William Grim asked him to be an acting judge in 2009. Through this work he has come to enjoy “the nature of judicial work,” he said.

“It’s very important to me to make very clear to litigants and to clients that come in that they are not going to be overlooked and they will be heard,” Grace said.

Biddlestone, Grace and Carson said they were already circulating filing petitions and preparing to give notice of candidacy before the February Board of Elections deadline. Lang, however, is one potential candidate who is still deciding whether he will take the leap.

“It’s something I’m thinking about,” Lang said, adding that he still wants to discuss the move with family members before he decides to pursue a judgeship. “I’ve got a good background of experience and I would seek support from every corner of the county to do something like this.”

Lang said the opportunity to be a judge is a position where a lot of good can be done and his work within the city would translate “seamlessly,” he said.

Lang has worked not only in the city but also as an assistant county prosecutor under C. David Warren, who held the position before Keller Blackburn took office.

He has seen a change in his work from the county to the city, and says that would only add to the experience he could use as a judge.

“Most of my work in the county was in court every day,” Lang said. “As law director I have more of a supervisory role so it’s a different way of seeing things.”