New Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway said this morning he is excited to get started.
Conway, who was elected in November, spent his first day on the job today "getting up to speed" on the criminal docket scheduled for this afternoon, getting acquainted with where things are and how the process works.
For about the last six months, Conway spent as much as three to four hours, three or four days a week talking to and observing his predecessor, Judge Earl McGimpsey. Conway said McGimpsey, who retired Friday after 12 years, gave him "words of wisdom" on various court issues, especially sentencings.
"I had a chance to get my feet a little wet while he was there," the new judge said. "It's not quite like getting thrown to the wolves."
Conway had been the Norwalk Law Director since January 2004. He also held the appointed position from August 1997 through January 2000.
Linda Stower has been the court administrator for about the last nine years, all under McGimpsey. She said both judges have good senses of humor and "strong moral characters."
"Actually, he's a lot like Judge McGimpsey," Stower said.
Michelle Sweet, Conway's law secretary at the law director's office since April 2000, described her former boss as a "happy guy" who is always fair. Conway hired her as council clerk in 1998.
"Jim is going to be the happiest judge ever," Sweet said. "Jim is a great boss. ... He's the least pretentious person I know.
"I think he's going to make a great judge. He always does the right thing," Sweet said, explaining that Conway uses common sense and good judgment in making decisions.
Her co-worker, law secretary Pat Moffatt, said Conway "has all the right priorities" to be an excellent judge, including family, community and a "sense of right and wrong."
"He's been excited. He's been in a very definite learning mode," Moffatt said, adding that Conway has been grateful for the time McGimpsey has spent with him.
Attorney Stuart O'Hara, the current Norwalk Law Director, was Conway's assistant starting in 2004. He described Conway as excited, upbeat and positive about taking over his new job.
"I think he's fair and open-minded. I think he'll give everybody a fair shake," O'Hara said.
Stower is looking forward to working with Conway.
"I think Huron County is in good hands," she said.