In the race for a new Probate and Juvenile Court judge, Democrats and Republicans each will have to choose between two candidates in the May 6 primary.
Judge Thomas J. Carnes is retiring at the end of his term in February 2015.
The responsibilities of the juvenile court include hearing all Department of Human Services cases regarding dependent, neglected and abused children, all juvenile traffic cases, delinquency and unruly offenses and adult contributing cases. The Court has jurisdiction over parentage cases, along with custody, visitation and support.
The Portage County Probate Court issues marriage licenses, monitors the administration of decedent estates, manages guardianships of minors and incompetent adults and presides over all adoptions, name changes and involuntary mental health and mental retardation commitments.
In the May 6 primary Republicans will choose between David Brode and Jonathan P. Jennings and Democrats will pick either Bob Berger or Thomas J. Freeman to go on to the November general election.
Brode points to his long experience with the juvenile court as preparation for the judgeship.
Brode, of Garrettsville, is an assistant Portage County prosecutor, assigned to represent the Portage County Department of Job and Family Services where he regularly appears in the juvenile court.
Before joining the prosecutor’s office, Brode served as a magistrate in the juvenile court from 1991 to 2002.
Jonathan Jennings is currently an acting judge with the Portage County municipal court and runs his own private practice with offices in Ravenna and Kent. Prior to that, Jennings was an attorney at legal aid for 11 years.
Jennings, who lives in Ravenna with his wife and four children, graduated from Malone University and from the Case Western Reserve university School of Law.
Bob Berger and Thomas J. Freeman are vying for the party nomination on the Democrat ballot.
Berger has been a Common Pleas Court Magistrate since 2007. As a magistrate, he oversees civil cases and has presided over many bench and jury trials in the common pleas court.
He has more than 36 years of legal experience as a private attorney and magistrate.
Berger began his law career as an associate in the firm with Joseph Giulitto and Perry Dickinson. He has served as part president of the Portage County Bar Association. He is a graduate of Theodore Roosevelt High School, Kent State University and the University of Baltimore Law School.
Thomas J. Freeman has been serving as a magistrate in the Summit County Juvenile court since 2005. He started his legal career in the Akron City Prosecutor’s Office from 1980-82 and practiced law with an Akron firm from 1984-91.
He is treasurer of the Ohio Association of Magistrates and chairs the Juvenile Law Committee of that association. He is a member of the Juvenile Law and Procedure Committee of the Ohio Judicial Conference.
Freeman grew up in Kent and attended Theodore Roosevelt High School. He graduated from Mount Union College and received his law degree from the University of Akron School of law.