Ohio's least busy judge? Not really.
Clermont County reporter Barrett Brunsman reports from Batavia:
A candidate for a seat on the 12th District Court of Appeals doesn’t agree with the verdict of the Cincinnati Business Courier, which labeled him “one of Ohio’s least busy judges.”
The Feb. 15 “special report” focused on whether lengthy civil cases cost businesses money, but Judge Robert P. Ringland of Clermont County Common Pleas Court said he fears the story could cost him votes in the Nov. 4 election.
“This was a violation of Journalism 101,” Ringland said. “The whole report is flawed. I will match my reputation against any other judge in the state of Ohio for work ethic and performance.”
Ringland said he expects Democrats to make a campaign issue of the Business Courier’s comment – even though a computer glitch at the county clerk of court’s office resulted in faulty data about his productivity being sent to the Ohio Supreme Court, from which the newspaper got its statistics.
“There was a glitch,” confirmed Alice Fricke, chief deputy for the Common Pleas clerk of courts. “It was calculating incorrectly.”
The problem was fixed after Judge Victor Haddad noticed it this summer, Fricke said.
However, the correct data for the past several years were never sent to the Supreme Court, said Patricia Schwartz, administrator of Common Pleas Court.
Dan Monk, one of the reporters who wrote the Business Courier story, said such a glitch “would have been a factor” in skewing some of the results of an analysis of the cases of Ringland and the three other Common Pleas judges in Clermont.
Ringland said no reporter called him to check the facts before the ranking of local judges was published. Monk confirmed that.
Last year, court records show, Ringland was assigned 667 new civil cases – and cleared 778. He also cleared 316 criminal cases, including the Liz Carroll murder trial.
Ringland handles some of the most complex and high-profile criminal cases in Clermont. The Ohio Supreme Court requires that criminal cases be given priority over civil cases because an individual’s liberty can be at stake, Ringland said.
He also devotes more time to writing legal opinions than most judges. Ringland has had 91 of his opinions published by the Ohio Supreme Court, more than any other trial judge in the state.
A Republican, Ringland is running against Democrat Bruce Carter in the nonpartisan election for a new seat on the appeals court in Middletown. The 12th District hears cases from Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fayette, Madison, Preble and Warren counties.