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Erie County public defender to run for municipal court judge

By Norwalk Reflector staff • Jan 17, 2019 at 9:00 PM

Erie County Public Defender Jeff Whitacre has announced his candidacy for judge of Erie County Municipal Court.

“I believe I have the experience, the knowledge and the commitment to provide the community with solutions, fairness and unbiased justice,” he said.

A trial attorney for 30 years, Whitacre is a current member of the Edison Local Schools board education and a past president. He has been the Erie County public defender since 2001.

“It is my most sincere belief that our community — the community served by the Erie County Municipal Court — needs a judge who is fair, balanced and experienced. I am running for this position because I believe I am the person most qualified for the job,” Whitacre said. 

Whitacre is seeking the six-year term of judge and will run against area attorney CJ Kamm, who is in his second term as the Berlin Heights mayor. Paul Lux, the presiding judge since Jan. 1, 1995, recently announced he won’t run again.

Whitacre, who was admitted to the practice of law by the Ohio Supreme Court in 1988, has tried cases in Erie, Huron and Lorain counties.

“I have also argued several appeals cases before the Ninth and Sixth District Court of Appeals. I also argued a case in the Ohio Supreme Court. These have mostly been cases involving criminal law,” said Whitacre, who was in private practice from 1988 through 1995.

“However, I have been a public servant for most of my career, dedicating myself to my community. I worked with law enforcement and victims during my time as prosecutor for the city of North Ridgeville (from) 1988 through 1990,” he added.

Whitacre said he “worked with families in crisis during my time working for Erie County Legal Aid,” from 1996 through 2000. Also, he served as a board member and president of the Erie County Bar Association.

“Finally, during my career as the Erie County public defender, I have worked closely with defendants and their families as they face difficult times,” Whitacre said.

“My wife Brenda and I have raised our family in the Berlin (Heights)/Milan community. My son, Tanner, and daughter, Allison, both attended Edison Local Schools and are graduates from Edison High School. I believe in the value of education and have also worked as an educator.”

During his career, Whitacre worked with the Erie County juvenile and common pleas courts in developing and operating a drug court. 

“Like Judge Paul Lux, I see that substance abuse is a problem that our legal system must focus on for the good of our community,” he said. “Further collaboration with our treatment providers and our schools is needed to address this current epidemic. However, I also believe in people being accountable for their behavior.” 

The Erie County Municipal Court district is comprised of the villages of Berlin Heights and Milan, Kelleys Island, and the Berlin, Groton, Milan, Margaretta and Oxford townships.

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