YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – As she leaves the bench at the end of the year, one Mahoning County judge says she’s proud she was able to reduce her own caseload by 40 percent, while also closing-out nearly all of the cases left behind by her predecessor.
Judge Shirley Christian’s term ends this Saturday.
When she was appointed to replace Judge James Evans, who retired two years ago, she inherited more than 650 criminal and civil case files.
Christian believes judges have a responsibility to run their courts efficiently.
“You have people on the street that shouldn’t be on the street. You have businesses waiting to hear whether their case is going to be decided. You have family members. So, all of that was important and that was a priority for me when I took the bench,” Christian said.
She learned just today that her effort to create a Common Pleas Veterans Court has been approved by the Ohio Supreme Court.
“So the program is all in place and ready to go and ready to serve,” Christian said.
Although Christian ran this year to retain her seat, she lost to Anthony D’Apolito, who will be sworn in Wednesday to take office New Year’s Day.
D’Apolito will now oversee her new program, but it still sends a message of appreciation to local veterans by helping them clear their records.
“We’re gonna give you a little extra help. We’re gonna still hold you accountable for what you did but we’re gonna give you a little bit of extra help to get you over the hump,” Christian said.
She said she also worked to better educate the public about the grand jury process, which determines whether suspects should be indicted and held for trial, especially those who are called to take part in it.
“People think that the grand jury decides whether somebody’s guilty or innocent, and they don’t do that, they don’t decide whether people are right or wrong,” Christian said.
Looking ahead, Christian said she’s already accepted a position with a local law firm and will be back in court early next year, but now as a litigator.
She looks forward to getting back into a private practice, but wants to take some time off for family first.
“I missed it, a little bit. I missed the fun of the battle that you get in the courtroom, and it’s a battle,” Christian said. “Instead of being the referee in the battle, I’m one of the participants again and so that’s alright.”