YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The Supreme Court of Ohio wasted little time finding a temporary replacement to oversee Mahoning County’s Probate Court in the wake of Friday’s resignation of Judge Mark Belinky.
Retired Judge R.R. Denny Clunk, 84, was on the job Monday morning after being chosen as a temporary replacement within hours of Belinky’s resignation. Clunk, who is from Alliance and has practiced law for 29 years, has been working by assignment in probate courts in 22 counties around northeast Ohio since retiring in 2003.
For the time being, he said he will handle the local court’s contested cases.
“I’ve always felt, take that out of the hands of the magistrate because they have to hear it, then they have to make a recommendation to the court, then I have to review it and it’s simpler that I just hear the case,” Clunk said.
While Judge Clunk’s appointment runs through June 17, he expects to remain in place until Gov. Kasich names someone to fill out the rest of Belinky’s term, which ends in February.
Belinky turned in his resignation Friday evening amid a probe of his dealings by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the FBI and the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office.
With the resignation of Judge Belinky, the Mahoning County Republican Party is screening applicants who may be interested in the appointment to fill the unexpired term for probate judge.
“We’ll provide them an application packet, which includes a 55-question judicial questionnaire, authorization to do a background check,” said Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman Mark Munroe.
Interested candidates can request a copy of the application packet by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. March 27.
Munroe said party leaders will send the names of at least three of those applicants to the governor for consideration. However, no one knows how long the appointment process may take.
According to a press release, Gov. John Kasich is committed to “appointing an individual who possesses superior legal skills and expertise, impeccable personal and professional integrity, and appropriate judicial temperament and approach.”