Plough is out, but who’s next?

Garrison Ebie

Last year there was a huge push to get people registered to vote for the presidential election. The best thing about that registration is that it lasts forever. Of course, there are a few stipulations that cause one to lose his or her eligibility, such as becoming a convicted felon, but for most of us, we can still take part of the democratic process more than once every four years. Though, tragically, we don’t.

Less than half of Ohio residents actually take to the polls when not electing a president, even though local elections tend to have more of a direct impact on their day-to-day lives.

On Nov. 3, just as a reminder, another election is coming up. Although this requires leaving the house even earlier than usual on a cold, crisp November morning, students may want to consider hitting up the polls real quick. The fate of whatever future run-ins they might have with the law may be hanging in the balance.

On the ballot are seven potential municipal judges, two of whom will soon take over their own Portage County courtroom. One of these courtrooms is currently held by the retiring, and rather grumpy, Judge John Plough.

Anyone who has had any sort of experience with the legal system in Kent should know this a pretty big deal, and long overdue. The tyranny of Judge Plough is finally coming to an end, and this is truly something to celebrate.

If you ask me, the man is a horrible human being and a leading definition of what “power hungry” is. Aside from the fact that he throws the book down hard enough to shatter bones on even the pettiest crimes, he is both a corrupt and incompetent judge.

It’s not only snooty college students complaining about the guy, either. Enough lawyers have gotten fed up with Plough to have the Ohio Supreme Court evaluate him. Earlier this year, the Ohio Supreme Court began disciplinary proceedings against him, accusing Plough of intimidating defendants, forcing lawyers to go to trial early and not keeping accurate records, which can interfere with the defendants’ right to appeal. Had the judge spent much more time on the bench, he’d probably be disbarred.

Ask anyone who’s ever had the misfortune to stand in front of Judge Plough how it went, and I’m relatively sure they’ll all have the same odious opinion of him. With all the controversy around the man, it’s no wonder he didn’t take a shot at the office again this year. But he wouldn’t stand a chance.

Out of the three Portage County municipal court judicial positions, two will be on the ballot in November, but the race attracting the most attention and having the most direct influence on Kent State students will be the one determining Plough’s successor. So, this spot on the bench rests in the hands of one of four candidates: Paul Brickner, Becky Doherty, Tommie Jo Marsilio and Kevin Poland.

There’s already been quite a ruckus talked about in this particular race. Marsilio has been through leaps and bounds over the last couple months trying to separate herself from what she calls a “Good Old Boys corruption club” in Portage County politics. She even linked Kevin Poland to this “corruption club,” according to a flyer her campaign made last month. She also just happened to be fired from her job as county prosecutor because of it.

Ignoring all the political mud-slinging, the four candidates all claim to be the most experienced for the job. Whatever experience is actually required for the title is completely up for interpretation, and I’ll leave those details out of the picture for now.

The most important thing is that registered voters step up and find out for themselves what these people are all about, then make a reasonable choice at the polls. Everyone’s fate can literally hang on this. You never know when you might get drunk and wake up in jail.

So on Election Day, even if voters want to leave the rest of the ballot blank, they should at least pick out a new judge who seems half-decent. I know I don’t want to wind up standing in front of a second incarnation of Plough if I, for some reason, break the law and go to court. I want a Judge who has a rational mind and dishes out justice using something other than a Magic 8 Ball.

Garrison Ebie is a senior electronic media production major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].