(WKBN) – Lawyer, lawmaker and now Mahoning County Court judge elect — Joe Schiavoni has a passion for helping people in the Valley, no matter his title.
“I’m honored that the voters trust me to do this,” he said.
Working as a lawyer for the past 15 years, Schiavoni knows the courts. His next chapter as Mahoning County Court judge is special.
“This is a great opportunity to serve my community,” he said.
Schiavoni also served in the Ohio Senate for 10 years. He represented the 33rd District and was the Senate minority leader.
Due to term limits, he couldn’t run for re-election in 2018, but his background gives him a unique perspective.
“At the end of the day, as long as you’re taking your time, you’re working through it, you have the best interest of the people at heart, you’ll get the job done and I promise to do that,” he said.
The position he’s stepping into is also unique. As a part-time judge, the law allows him to keep his practice, representing workers and their families.
“You gotta compartmentalize everything in life — family, work, friends — you just kinda gotta work through that one thing at a time,” he said.
With the pandemic, that has really been the theme of 2020. It has also brought a lot of new technology to the courts like Zoom hearings, which Schiavoni wants to utilize.
“I think it is the best way to go, at least for the time being,” he said.
Working under Judge Durkin in law school, Schiavoni saw the power of drug court. He’s more than willing to implement a specialized docket once he takes the bench.
“As a judge in county court, I’ll only be dealing with misdemeanors. So if it’s a felony, you bind it over to common pleas court but you deal with a lot of nasty felonies and something I’m really sensitive to is domestic violence,” he said.
Schiavoni wants an open-minded and unbiased courtroom, no matter the circumstances of the cases that come before him.
“I’ve always been straight forward and try to build trust with people and that’s how I plan on doing this,” he said.
Regarding state funding for the court, Schiavoni says from his time in the Senate, he knows how important it is to get that application for money in at the start of the year. He said he’ll definitely take an aggressive approach to bring those dollars to our community.
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