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Herman Carson

Both well qualified candidates compete for the title of Common Pleas Court Judge

Two longtime members of the Athens County legal scene are jockeying for a chance to be the county’s Common Pleas Court Judge.

Two longtime members of the Athens County legal scene are jockeying for a chance to be the county’s Common Pleas Court Judge.

George P. McCarthy — who has been Athens County Common Pleas Court Judge since his appointment by Gov. John Kasich in 2013 to replace retiring Judge Michael Ward — is pinned against Herman Carson, director of the Athens County branch of the Office of the Ohio Public Defender.

Common Pleas Court Judges in Ohio currently earn an annual salary of $121,350.


Before he took the bench, McCarthy served as a city and assistant county prosecutor for 12 years, representing jurisdictions in Athens, Meigs and Allen County.

"I was also chairperson of the Athens County Domestic Violence Task Force and one of the original members of the Task Force started in 1993," McCarthy said. "I was also a regular volunteer for over ten years with the Poverty Law Clinic."

He’s also been co-chair of the Policy and Procedures Committee of Ohio University's Coalition Advocating Responsible Drinking Decisions Committee.

"I didn't see the necessity to drag college students to court system," he said. "I wanted to give them a second chance."


Carson worked as an attorney in private practice in Athens from 1980 until he became the director of the public defenders office.

He has also served as a substitute judge for the Athens County Municipal Court for 22 years.

"I enjoyed the aspects of it when I worked as a municipal court judge, and I think I can make sure that the residents of Athens get a full opportunity to present their cases with my corporated experience," Carson said. "Fair and partial, with respect."

Plans for the office

Both candidates specifically spoke on advocating drug prevention and education program to reduce the incarceration rate related to drug crimes in Athens.


The current judge plans to implement new technology to the court document system, develop a veteran's court and enact mediation program, which will bring two parties together to resolve the case voluntarily.

“I'm currently working on decriminalizing low-grade offenders since we have a over-capacity prison," McCarthy said. "When they get out of the prison, they will go through ACE program that includes both education program and vivitrol program that have been shown successful results."


Carson’s main critique of McCarthy’s current policies was his treatment of those domestic cases.

"13.9 percent of Judge McCarthy's cases are considered overdue or delinquent," Carson said. "... And right now, a magistrate judge is hearing all the domestic relations cases, making recommendations.

“When I become a judge, I plan to hear those more, especially those related to child custody."


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